Cruis’n USA Hits Wii Shop

1,000 points and supposedly the visuals are way updated. This was one of my favorite N64 games so I will be checking it out.

Cruis’n USA(TM) (Nintendo 64(R), 1-2 players, Rated E for Everyone, 1,000 Wii Points):
Ever felt like driving to the Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Rushmore and the White House
in one day? Well then, gear up to put your racing skills to the test in a frantic trip across
the United States, following a route that you won’t find on any map. Whether it’s the
rolling hills of Appalachia, the flowing cornfields of Iowa or the crowded tunnels below
Chicago, you’ll find yourself too focused on the intense racing action to worry about the
scenery. Get started by picking from a garage full of cars to find the one that best suits
your style–if you’re good enough, you’ll even find a few hidden ones to round out your
selection. Then choose one of three different playing perspectives and get ready to hang
on tight. With five difficulty levels, the ability to remove traffic or other racers, and
two-player simultaneous racing, it’s enough to make you forget all about finding that next rest
stop. Just watch out for the cows, OK?

Deca Sports Preview

Time to clear some shelf space by your copy of Wii Sports. Deca Sports offers a fantastic variety of new and well done Wii mote centered sports games to keep the good times rollin.

I had the chance to visit with the fine folks from Hudson two days ago to check out Deca Sports. Deca Sports is a title I do not think at this moment is on many people’s radar but it will be soon because it feels and plays like the natural successor to Wii Sports. By now I am sure most Wii owners have grown tired of the same 5 sports games on the Wii and are ready to play other sports titles while still encompassing the accessibility of the Wii. Deca Sports delivers on this front by offering ten various sports titles. The complete list includes badminton, kart racing, curling, snowboard cross, archery, supercross, beach volleyball, basketball, soccer, and ice skating. In addition, Hudson has managed to successfully strike the balance between ease of pick up and play and depth. The build I was shown was near complete ahead of the game’s May release. I got to sample pretty much everything the game had to offer in my two hours with the game in both single and multiplayer. However, most of my time was spent in multiplayer ( 7 of 10 games are up to 4 players) with a bit of single player via the Deca Challenge mode. I don’t want to spoil every game in Deca so I will go ahead and highlight some of my favs.

The first game I asked to try upon loading Deca up was basketball. I’m a huge basketball fan so the choice was fairly easy. The first thing you’ll notice is the simplicity of the menus and presentation which is very much along the lines of the Wii. The catchy title song does not hurt things other. It is one of those catchy tunes from Japan that you will have in your head all day after one listen walking around going “Everybody”. From the multiplayer menu you go straight into sport selection. Once that is complete Deca Sports reveals its first bit of complexity. Hudson has created 8 fictitious teams within the game each with their own specific characteristics. Some of the teams are quite amusing and as a huge Dodgeball fan I went straight for the Average Joe’s team. The strategy here is much like the old hockey classic Blades of Steel, players are split into either small, medium, or large players. Small players are typically faster but weak, larger players are slow but strong, and medium players are somewhere in the middle. In basketball, you choose 3 team members to go into a 3 v 3 match. Who you pick to play on your team will largely determine the play style that will work for you. The gameplay in basketball was simple and satisfying. The nunchuk’s thumbstick served as a means to move your player. Where the wand came into play was when for example you wanted to steal the ball. Just like in real hoops you have to wave your wand across the screens to have your player smack at the ball for a takeaway. Shooting also employed the same true to life mechanics of moving the Wii mote up to jump the down to release like a real jump shot. While simple, the timing of your release determined the odds of the ball going in. An example of Deca showing its pick up and play and depth cross. Dunks and layups are also possible if you shoot while near the basket.

Once I had selfishly had enough of the game I wanted to play I asked the Hudson guys what was popular in the office. With all the sports Deca had to offer I received a truly unexpected answer: Ice skating was all the rave back at Hudson. I never thought at this point in my video gaming life I would find a game based around ice skating entertaining but Deca really managed to pull off what I easily see becoming an addiction. In ice skating you choose a routine from three difficulties and a pattern is laid on the ice you have to follow. The more of the yellow dot pattern you follow the better your score. At some points in the patterns you will be presented with blue, green, or red circles which represent opportunities to do tricks. The goal once again is timing. Swing the remote once you are at one of these markers to perform a trick such as a triple jump or a spin. The closer you pull off your trick with good timing the less your skater loses controls. Miss badly enough and you will even end up with your behind on the ice. There’s one more element that adds to the fun in Ice Skating: like in real ice skating competitions the routines are timed. Miss too many jumps or veer off course and you won’t finish before the music ends leading to a penalty in the points.

Ice skating is where I also sampled one major component of Deca’s single player, Deca Challenge. Deca Challenge is part score competition mode and part training mode. Each sport will have a challenge for you to complete so that you can earn a medal in that sport. It’s sort of like going pro in Wii Sports for a particular sport. For ice skating, the challenge was presented as a rather simple hit all the dots in the time allotted challenge. What started out at a simple circle in 30 seconds soon became a figure 8 and that is when the real fun began scrambling to complete a stage with 1 second to go on the clock. Challenge tracks how far you have gotten and in what time you have passed each challenge. Say you finish that figure 8 with five seconds to spare on the timer you will be awarded that time as a bonus. The challenges will keep coming until you reach a final challenge or fail out.

Beyond just gaming with balls Deca also offers two racing mini games, kart racing and super cross. I had to try the Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! Supercross game. Like most racing games on the Wii, the supercross has a player turning the wand sideways and using 2 to accelerate and 1 for gas. You will turn by tilting the wand. Racing on the Wii as a whole takes getting used to as the Wii is very sensitive to turns. I spent a lot of my play time crashing on the easiest dirt track. I would notice when I hit jumps I would come to stop and then it hit me. Deca adding depth again to what otherwise seemed straight forward. Like on a real bike while in mid air you must position your wand appropriately to land flat. Failure to do will cause a stall in your momentum and you’ll get passed.

Visually Deca gets it done. Like most Wii titles it looks very nice in 480p with no noticeable hiccups in the frame rate. The characters themselves all very much look like a standard set of Miis. The arenas are all nicely done in a Wii Sports esque fashion. You can even notice some of the detail and polish Hudson stuck in the game visually when playing some games such as volleyball. If you pay attention to where a ball last landed while playing a game of volleyball in Deca, you will see the crater of the prior points and also the sand will degrade a bit in areas most heavily walked on by your character.

Deca Sports hits shelves and May 2008 and is an excellent compliment and anecdote to Wii Sports. Many will draw direct comparisons between the two games and those who are looking for Wii Sports 2 need look no further than Deca. The sports games I played were easy to pick and play while still maintaining a bit of depth for those us hardcore gamers. It is a must have for party gamers and fans of Wii mini game games I think will really like what the game has to offer.

Deca Sports Trailer Released

Check out the new trailer for Deca Sports on the Wii. Ten games in one. I had the chance to spend the afternoon with the folks from Hudson yesterday and will have a full preview of the game tonight. Wii Sports should prepare itself to share some shelf space.

New Chronicles of Narnia Prince Caspian Gameplay Video

Super Smash Brothers Brawl Review

A masterpiece that will be remembered as a generation defining game. Super Smash Brothers Brawl once again staples Nintendo as the masters of being able to blend a fun, pleasing, and easy to pick up and play.

It doesn’t happen often and most of the time it happens from October to December. A game release so big and done so well that it reminds you why you love this industry. Super Smash Brothers Brawl is yet another addition in to the Wii’s stellar line up of games. From the moment you load the game and you see the line up of Nintendo favorites you get the feeling you are about to play something special.

The presentation in Super Smash Brothers is top notch. The opening cut scene that starts with Mario and Link along the classical music is among the best the industry has ever seen. The menus are easy to navigate at the front end. You can quickly choose if you want to be playing by yourself, with a group of friends, or go online. From there the options are almost endless for what you can do. Something you will see me mention a lot is the music of the game. Even during the game selection screens, the theme to the game is absolutely superb. The amount of selectable characters is extremely deep covering every conceivable Nintendo favorite as well as a few third party surprises. You won’t have any trouble finding your favorite Nintendo characters as there are 35 to choose from. Besides first party however, Konami’s Snake and Sega’s Sonic also join the Brawl. The amount of stages to fight on are also in abundance and feature plenty of favorites such as the Pokemon arenas, to green hill zone from Sonic, and the Bridge of Eldin from Zelda. 40 stages in all which should be able to satisfy even the most ADD gamers.

The visuals in SSBB are without question among the best on the Wii. I am not sure how much further the limit of the console can be pushed to be honest. All character models are highly detailed. The entire experience runs smoothly at 60 frames per second. During the sub space emissary the environments are nicely detailed even though it is basically a 2D fighter in a 3D setting. Some of the enemies lack detail during the subspace and there is a lot of repeat use of textures, however that is all forgivable as the game does deliver visually where it counts. It is a treat to see higher resolution version of locations and stages you have been playing since you were a little child who just got his or her first Nintendo. The sound in Brawl is without question the best music to ever grace a Wii game. All the tracks surrounding every menu and every stage are top notch. Brawl is one of those rare games sound wise that will have you going “Wow!” I remember this song as you hear a theme from long ago! Tracks will get stuck in your head as well. The sound effects are top notch as well and sound true to their older counter parts.

The game play in Brawl is a transmitted 3D to 2D fighting engine. While the multiplayer component of the game is without a doubt still the focus of the game there have been great additions in the single player as well. The Subspace Emissary story modes adds a new twist to Smash Brothers universe. It appears the evil baddies of the Nintendo universe have devised a scheme to blanket the world in sub space. The story isn’t all that epic. However, going through an adventure mode using the Super Smash controls and gameplay was a lot of fun. Clocking in at eight hours you will travel every conceivable terrain from the Nintendo universe. You will trek from the midair stadium through the glacial peak all the way into subspace itself. The Subspace serves as a great way to unlock almost all the characters available in the game as well as gain trophies and stickers. My only complain with the mode is that toward the end, it seemed like you had to do a lot of back tracking especially during the great maze portion of the game. Also, the final boss is quite a challenge as he seems to have about 5 or 6 different moves that will end a character’s life. Some gamers may prefer not to play through the adventure and they will not be penalized. Nintendo has gone to great lengths to offer choice to everyone. You can obtain most if not all of the same unlocks from characters, to stages, to stickers and trophies by playing your multiplayer butt off. This was a great way to please everyone. Some people simply do not find the adventure mode interesting and would prefer to immediately jump online or against friends. I am happy to say, they will not be penalized.

Also, control wise I cannot stress the drastic difference made by using the Gamecube controller over the wand and nunchuk. Smash Brothers’ game play seemed like almost a chore to pull off any moves using the wand and nunchuk. The ability to use the gamecube controller to pull off smashes at will with the c - stick is essential during every aspect of the game. I was almost at the point of tears in some locations because I simply could not pull off the necessary double jump to continue. Especially during levels where the level moves and you are forced to keep up this became an issue with I am thankful the GCN controller solved. I would highly recommend anyone who purchases Smash go out and pick one up if they do not already have one.

The longevity of this title is one I expect gamers to be playing for years to come. The amount of options for matches between friends is extremely robust. Even playing solo to unlock all the trophies and stickers will take quite a while. The Nintendo WFC which allows you to pit up head to head against your friends or strangers online is also a welcome addition. However, for every great Nintendo title that comes out featuring online play a little of me dies as there is yet to be a centralized way to have your friends listed across multiple games. I know this is not something that is going to be changed any time soon, but a 12 digit number representing a friend is not the way online should ever be handled. I urge Nintendo to consider revising their online strategy going forward as more major titles come out featuring online.

Presentation : 9.0 - Top notch. A robust roster of characters and stages. Menus are all clean and nicely done.

Visuals: 9.5 - Move over Super Mario Galaxy you now have company among the most visually appealing Wii games. 60 frames per second and gorgeous environments and detailed character models.

Sound: 10.0 - Orchestral music at its finest. All the classic music from your favorite Nintendo games as well as some newer tracks that I cannot stop listening to. Character sound effects are also accurate to their older counterparts.

Gameplay: 9.0 - Easy to pick up and play, difficult to master. Do yourself a favor and use the gamecube controller which makes things a lot easier.

Lasting Appeal 9.0 - Lots of extras to unlock and multiplayer gameplay that will have you playing this one for years to come. Online needs an immense amount of work however, but that is the case across the entire console.

Overall Score (Not an average): 9.4 /10

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