July 2005

The next podcast is online. The RSS feed has been updated so iTunes users will get the next episode. I also made a few changes to the feed that may result in a duplicated Pilot episode. I apologize for that, but I wanted to keep things consistent from here on out. Enjoy it.


[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/destroyallhumans/cover.jpg[/floatleft]If there is one thing that is a constant source of irritation and annoyance in my life, it’s people. There is just something about humanity in general that really gets under my skin. I can’t say how many times I’ve told people (ones who I have deemed worthy to associate with) that I think we should let natural selection have its way with the world. Forget warning labels and traffic lights; just let people fight their way through existence. And what is more natural than aliens coming down to Earth and destroying all humans? Nothing in my book; not one thing.

The premise of [i]Destroy All Humans[/i], the latest from Pandemic, is to come to Earth and, well, destroy all humans. There is a backstory, of course: your name is Crypto137, a Furon clone-alien that is working for Pox, an alien scientist of sorts. Your job is to go and collect DNA from people on Earth so that your alien nation can perfect its clones, which are getting stupider by the minute. It turns out that a long time ago a rouge Furon alien came to Earth and, um, reproduced with an Earthling. Thus, deep down in all of us is some alien DNA. You are unleashed on Earth with the ability to throw cows, read minds, and naturally, anal probe the locals. The game is set in the 1950’s stereotypical sci-fi B-movie towns, where ignorance runs rampant and communism is on people’s minds. The people think the most interesting thoughts that produced many a chuckle while I was playing the game. To break it down, you have missions that you must complete, and once completed, you have free reign of the level to collect extra DNA and complete mini missions. You can use DNA to purchase upgrades on the mother ship for yourself or for your flying saucer.

[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/destroyallhumans/ss02_thumb.jpg[/floatright]There are a myriad of weapons and tactics used to navigate each level. As you move about, your ultimate goal is to remain unnoticed. There is a panic-level meter that you should pay close attention to, as the higher it gets, the more law enforcement and, eventually, military you have to deal with. Oh yeah, there is a little wrench thrown into the works when Crypto finds out about the Majestic, a government agency that is out to capture Furon technology and use it for their own devices. Most of the time, you have to walk around in human form, taking form of the first human you scan. To stay concentrated, you must scan other humans’ minds and, like I said, this is when you hear the most peculiar thoughts. Also a source of amusement is the dialogue between Crypto and Pox. For some, the game might seem a little redundant, but for me personally, I never grew tired of running around causing mayhem. At many points during the game, you have to enter your saucer to fight off or destroy an attack of large scale. I enjoyed this aspect of the game. It reminded me of the saucers in Tim Burton’s [i]Mars Attacks![/i] Again, there was just some sort of satisfaction in blowing buildings, people, and tanks to smithereens with an alien deathray.

The controls in the game were picked up very quickly, and running around as Crypto was pretty basic. There are a few things that I think really make the game stand out: the authentic B-movie alien soundtrack and also the B-movie worlds in which you move about. Humor moves the game along, and there is never a dull moment. The humor helps take your mind off the fact that you are basically doing the same thing over and over again. That is one drawback to this game. There is not much variety in the gameplay. But when you think of a game that everyone loves, like [i]Halo[/i], there is no variety in gameplay there either. Another drawback is that the game is a relatively short one. I just wish that there could have been more of humanity to destroy.

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/destroyallhumans/ss04_thumb.jpg[/floatleft]Overall, I would recommend this game to people because it seems at this point in time there just isn’t much around that provides a new, fresh, fun concept. Though most people like mankind more than I do, there isn’t one person out there who won’t enjoy trying to destroy all humans. This game is good for a laugh, easy to master, and fun even a mindless clone would enjoy.

I recommend [i]Destroy All Humans[/i] to invade all consoles at least once.

GBA Cover Project

July 15, 2005

The GBA Cover Project has recently morphed into quite a large project with covers spanning GB, GBA, GBC, DS, N64, and soon to be SNES. We are currently hosting over 700 high resolution covers for you printing pleasure and we are also sporting a brand new interface to make your experience that much better. Enjoy it and feel free to give me feedback on the new layout. I am going to be tweaking the way search results are displayed in the near future but aside from that things should be ready for you to use.

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/yoshitopsyturvy/cover.jpg[/floatleft][i]Yoshi Topsy-Turvy[/i] is yet another new game from the folks at Nintendo that makes use of a gyro sensor to affect the environment of the game. This sensor is a bit different than the one used in [i]WarioWare: Twisted[/i]. The game cart for [i]WWT[/i] was huge and came in a double-thick cardboard box. This one, however, is much thinner and comes in a standard box. The reason for the difference is that your tilting has a limited range of motion since it is not the primary control for [i]YTT[/i].

The story behind [i]YTT[/i] is quite simple and amusing. Hongo the Great Book Spirit trapped Bowser in a pop-up book. Unfortunately, he was on Yoshi’s Island at the time, so the entire island was also trapped in the book. The Spirit who loves Suprises has given you the ability to tilt the world within the pop-up book so you can travel to the last page and trap Bowser. Upon his capture, Hongo will return Yoshi’s Island to its rightful place.

[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/yoshitopsyturvy/ss04_thumb.jpg[/floatright][i]YTT[/i] is divided into six different chapters. Each chapter consists of several courses that you must complete in your mission to trap Bowser. Each course will have one or more missions that you must complete in order to pass the course. These missions can range in type from collecting 10 coins to eating three apples and turning them back into Egglings.

The tilt mechanism in [i]YTT[/i] is actually neat and has a much better application than the one in [i]WWT[/i]. As you progress through each course, there may be walls that you can’t jump up. A simple tilt of the console will allow you to run up them. In essence, the tilt mechanism alters gravity in the direction you tilt the console. It is kind of a hard concept to explain, but it works really well.

There are plenty of special devices littered throughout the levels that will make use of the tilt mechanism. For some reason, I found them very entertaining and fun to play with. These items range from rolls of carpet to a half pipe.

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/yoshitopsyturvy/ss02_thumb.jpg[/floatleft]After completing a mission, you are given a chance to spin the bonus wheel. Landing on a Yoshi icon will let you play a bonus mission that allows you to win additional coins. To complete a chapter, you have to earn enough Happiness Medals. Medals are awarded at the conclusion of each course as a reward for completing your mission.

In addition to regular Yoshi, you will also find yourself as a hot-air balloon or a boat. You will use the tilt to guide your balloon to safety or to counter the force of the waves and keep your “Yoshi boat” on the screen.

The only downside to [i]YTT[/i] is that it’s very short. You could probably knock out the entire game in just a few hours. For that reason alone, I am going to recommend that you just rent this for a weekend. I don’t see a lot of replay action going on with this title, so a weekend is all you should need. I do commend Nintendo for trying to create new types of gameplay in the handheld market.

NBA Ballers

July 14, 2005

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/nbaballers/cover.jpg[/floatleft]Not too long ago, I revealed the awkward love affair that I have with basketball. I also made mention of a journey in which I was to find the perfect basketball game. The first stop in my journey was with [i]NBA Ballers[/i], a game that glorifies the ghetto side of basketball and presents a unique one-on-one streetball experience.

One of the first things you will notice about [i]Ballers[/i] is the immaculate work Midway has done with the graphics in this game. The player models are outstanding, and they do a decent job of creating interesting venues for your games to take place. The venues include the homes of a few of the game’s players such as KG and Jason Kidd. The modeling is only surpassed by the even better game animations as players perform insane dunks and wacky Globetrotter-style dribbling maneuvers. Special effects even come into play during certain animations that bring back some [i]NBA Jam[/i] nostalgia.

Midway didn’t stop there, as they laid out a nice hip-hop soundtrack to accompany the sleek visuals. In addition to the tunes, you will hear spot-on sound effects for everything from dribbling to crowd chatter to camera shutters. Midway spared no expense in creating a true-to-life audio environment.

[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/nbaballers/ss03_thumb.jpg[/floatright][i]Ballers[/i] is a one-on-one game with best-of-three matches against each opponent. The winner of each match is the first to 11 and you must win by two points, or whoever is on top when the time runs out. Points are scored according to standard rules with two and three pointers. Goaltending is very rarely called, but it can be a momentum shifter, so be careful. Fouls are called, but there is no penalty until the fifth foul regardless of when the foul was called. On the fifth foul, your opponent gets to shoot a free throw worth three points AND they retain possession of the ball. In a game to 11, this can be deadly, so watch those fouls. In addition to standard first-to-11 games, you will run across the occasional game that has special rules and twists. These special matches add a layer of variety to the stream of matches you will play throughout the game.

The player you choose to use will greatly determine the set of moves you have at your disposal. Guards like Nash and Tony Parker will have a larger arsenal of jukes and dribbling moves, while big men like Amare Stoudemire will have deadly dunks and the ability to back you into a low post. After trying a variety of players, I can say that the big men definitely have the advantage from a strength perspective. The speed advantage of the guards isn’t enough to offset the power of a player like Amare, and using a smaller player will make it tough to gain the upper hand.

[i]Ballers[/i] comes equipped with a nice set of easily used moves that you can chain together to smoke your opponent. Offensive jukes are done with the right thumbstick and can be enhanced with the “juice” button, which is basically the turbo button from [i]NBA Jam[/i]. The ultimate juke moves are called “act a fool” moves and are true streetball moves that range from passing the ball off your opponents’ back to dribbling between their legs. This set of moves is the most humiliating but is also easily interrupted if your opponent anticipates it. Be careful not to become predictable.

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/nbaballers/ss06_thumb.jpg[/floatleft][i]Ballers[/i] has two different game modes for your enjoyment. Rags to Riches lets you create a custom player that is an unknown streetballer and take him to the top of the circuit through various tournaments against some of the NBA’s top players. TV Tournament has you playing as a NBA player against other NBA stars in themed tournaments. You can also play standard one-on-one games in exhibition style.

My only complaint about [i]Ballers[/i] is that there is a hint of the old AI advantage that would rear its ugly head in [i]NBA Jam[/i] back in the day. Thwarting this AI hot streak is usually as simple as trying to keep your house meter full. You accomplish this by stringing together jukes and moves and finishing in a dunk or a made shot. There is a slight learning curve to the game, but anyone familiar with basketball games should be just fine.

In the end, [i]Ballers[/i] is a really solid game that has a ton of unlockables to keep you busy. The sound and graphics deliver a rock-solid environment that really lets you showcase your skills. The different game modes provide enough variety to keep you playing for a while. [i]NBA Ballers[/i] gets a thumbs up from me. I just hope I didn’t start with the best game out there or I am going to be sorely disappointed from here on out.