July 2006

Despite the incredible success of the Nintendo DS, the GBA is still very much a dominant platform and as such new games are coming out every week. [i]Drill Dozer[/i] is one of the more recent titles to be put out for GBA.

In [i]Drill Dozer[/i] you play Jill who is the spunky daughter of the head of the Red Dozers, a band of thieves. The story kicks off with the Skullker gang attacking your father and putting him in critical condition in an effort to steal the precious red diamond. You must lead the Red Dozers through level after level of destruction to recover the red diamond.

The Drill Dozer is your main weapon and vehicle in your fight against the Skullkers. Your drill dozer is capable of drilling in any of the four cardinal directions to advance through levels (up, down, left, and right). The level design is the real obstacle here as you have to strategically get around various parts of the level in a very specific order.

As your make your way through the levels keep your eyes peeled for various items to collect. Your Drill Dozer has 3 gears that it is capable of drilling at. To upgrade to the 2nd and 3rd gear you need to find the additional gears and upgrade your Dozer. In addition to the gears you can also collect chips from enemies and destroyed items to buy upgrades at the shop. At the shop you can purchase collect special equipment that allows you to fly or operate your Drill Dozer underwater as well as maps to unlock bonus areas.

[i]Drill Dozer[/i] is quite a shallow game, but provides a decent level of entertainment for those quick gaming sessions on the go. The cartridge is a little large, due to the included rumble pak, and will stick out even further on your DS Lite than standard GBA games which may be a deal breaker for some people. I found [i]Drill Dozer[/i] to be enjoyable, but not something I can confidently recommend you to run out and buy with your last $30. Save [i]Drill Dozer[/i] for a rental or borrow it from a friend, because for $30 there are much better games to be had.


July 28, 2006

My introduction to [i]Chibi-Robo[/i] was not until well after its release date. I had heard of the title mentioned, but it didn’t make enough of a blip on my radar to garner a pre-release glance. Having logged a very significant amount of time on it I can safely say that it is one of the more quirky games to come out recently and while not as strange as the original Katamari Damacy it definitely gives me the same quirky vibe.

[i]Chibi-Robo[/i] is at its core simply a cleaning game. I know that sounds odd, but it is what you will spend the bulk of your time doing. You, [i]Chibi-Robo[/i], were given to little Jenny Sanderson for her 8th birthday. In addition to being a toy you also help out around the house by cleaning up and doing various other tasks. An evil plot unfolds that pits [i]Chibi-Robo[/i] against the evil Spydoz of Macroware Robotics, Inc. The relatively simple story and concept of this game lend it to being very open ended and quite addictive.

The visuals in [i]Chibi-Robo[/i] are pretty standard fare and there are times where the camera acts up and gets a little irritating. Sound wise the game features quite possibly the most annoying “jibber jabber” for the simulated talking and without a way to skip cutscenes will have you diving for the mute button.

Your time in the game is divided into nights and days. At the end of the night or the day you must return to the Chibi House to recharge and tally up your points. You are also able to do this at any point during your daily adventures. Initially each day and night is only 5 minutes long which makes the time go by very fast. As you collect moolah, the currency in this fictitious place, you will be able to purchase up to 10 or even 15 minute “segments” of gameplay. I prefer the 15 minute days myself. The house is a very different place at night versus day so both times of day serve unique purposes. The more you play, the more of the house you are able to explore.

As the game progresses you will be collecting various things: moolah, happy points, and scrap. Moolah is used to buy upgrades and various tools. Your happy points are awarded for cleaning and accomplishing tasks in the game and are used to rank you on the overall Chibi Ranking list. Achieving a certain rank thrusts you into Super Chibi-Robo which is just an upgraded version of your former self.

In addition to new areas you can upgrade [i]Chibi-Robo[/i] with tools, weapons, and various vehicles. These will all help you accomplish the ultimate goal of keeping your host family, the Sandersons, happy.

I don’t want to reveal too many of the secrets along the way as discovery is part of the reason this game has kept my attention so long. At the end of the day [i]Chibi-Robo[/i] is actually a really fun game for all ages. As I mentioned earlier, the Charlie Brown style jibber jabber will drive you insane, but the talking is only heavy in the early stages of the game or when you initiate it, which you have to do at times. Since [i]Chibi-Robo[/i] is a little quirky and not a sleeper hit quite like Katamari was, I am going to recommend it as a rental first. For me, it’s part of my library for good, but others may not feel the same.

I…I can’t even make fun of this.

It’s just crazy.

[url=http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/07/27/1728251&from=rss]The 64% Violent Pacman[/url] (Slashdot)

Xbox 360 news wrap-up

July 28, 2006

Hey guys, I’ve been out of comission, so I haven’t been able to be on top of the news. Thankfully Cone and Wayne have kept up. Here’s some Xbox backlog:

A demo of 99 Nights is out on Xbox Live. I’m very interested to see how this is. There’s also new “webisode” videos of Dead Rising, which hits soon. Excited? I am!

Also, Bullet Witch hit Japan and is apparently doing pretty ok (for a 360 game).

[url=http://www.majornelson.com/archive/2006/07/28/Demo-Ninety_2D00_Nine-Nights.aspx]Demo: Ninety-Nine Nights[/url] (Major Nelson)
[url=http://www.majornelson.com/archive/2006/07/27/Trailer_3A00_-Dead-Rising-Webisode.aspx]Trailer: Dead Rising Webisode[/url] (Major Nelson)
[url=http://www.kotaku.com/gaming/japan/bullet-witch-casts-spell-over-akihabara-190194.php]Bullet Witch Casts Spell Over Akihabara[/url] (Kotaku)

Support for Pirates?

July 28, 2006

Software piracy is still a hot issue in our industry and I most definitely don’t support it or buy into the excuses that people make for it. What I definitely don’t get is pirates that expect official support from the developers. Ars has an article up that details that the support requests for [i]SiN Episodes Emergence[/i] upon release were a 5 to 1 ratio of pirates outnumbering legit customers. That means the cost of supporting this game was 5 times higher than it should have been due to piracy. Tell me that doesn’t cost developers money.

Here is the kicker:

[quote]I spent seven hours searching for answers to one guy’s problem just to find out that when I asked him a question regarding a setting, he was checking on his friend’s machine for the “right” answer and then on his machine and if the two didn’t match, he was reporting the “right” answer so I wouldn’t know he had a pirated version.[/quote]

And we wonder why devs take so long to put out games or move to different, more secure platforms.

Source: [url=http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060727-7369.html]Ars[/url]