Read-a-long with Nintendo Power #232 (September 2008)
Last issue’s sword-based tease wasn’t Kingdom Hearts, Zelda or even Fire Emblem… it was Sonic? NP broke the news: another Wii-exclusive Sonic game is coming, a second installment in the suddenly-a-sub-franchise Sonic Storybook series. Which might as well be termed Sonic and the Gimmicky Control Schemes. The game is Sonic and the Black Knight and features the hedgehog’s take on the King Arthur legend. Early vids on Sonic Unleashed have the blue blur back on an upswing (lycanthropy notwithstanding)… will Black Knight keep the momentum? Read-a-long!
Issue #232, September 2008
featured games: Sonic and the Black Knight, Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop, Ghostbusters (Wii/DS), Little King’s Story, Mario Super Sluggers, Mushroom Men (Wii/DS)
The Sonic and the Black Knight article runs a razor’s edge between lauding and insulting the game’s spiritual predecessor, Sonic and the Secret Rings. On one hand, Secret Rings was “pretty” and “well-reviewed,” and on the other hand the new game hopes to be “less arduous” and “resolve problems [found in Secret Rings].” And although Black Knight will retain much of Secret Rings’ RPG-esque skill-based system, game director Tetsu Katano anticipates the skill system will not “interfere with the game’s tempo this time.” About 200 skill-enhancing items are in the game… and if you can’t find precisely the one you want you can trade for them online.
For my money, the biggest announcement for Black Knight is that it will not use the NES remote style control. In Secret Rings, you had to steer Sonic like an Excite Truck and convulse wildly to get him to attack. Black Knight will utilize a more traditional control stick scheme. This frees up the Remote’s motion controls for swordplay, but you saw that coming, right?
Sonic will not be the only playable character in Black Knight, which is something of a bugaboo for longtime fans. Generally speaking, when Sonic’s friends become playable, that’s when Sonic games start sucking. I still can’t scrape Knuckles’s “Pumpkin Hill” music from Sonic Adventure 2 out of my brain. However, Katano stresses that secondary characters – like Knuckles and Shadow – will be optional. NP gets in a dig here, speculating that Shadow will possess “a magical blade forged from overwrought angst.”
Seems like its been a while since we heard about new DS games that weren’t just Petz variants. This issue talks briefly about the upcoming Kirby Super Star Ultra, a DS-ified update on the SNES Kirby Super Star. I’m kinda bummed they didn’t give this a D. S. subtitle, like “Dynamite Sucking!”
Also on the new-to-DS front, we have an Elebits sequel, Exit DS (from the PSP original), Rhythm Tengoku Gold, the Katamarish oddball title Prey the Stars, and a DS version of Chrono Trigger. After over twenty years, the DS will host a sequel to The Legend of Kage!
Here’s somebody we should all know more about: Takahashi Meijin. A former Hudson employee, Takahashi became famous for being able to fire off sixteen shots per second in Hudson’s various shmup games. Hudson rewarded his celebrity by making him the main character in a new game, a little something called Adventure Island. Yes, the oldtime fave known as Master Higgins is actually a real Japanese gentlemen named Master Takahashi! That’s some forgotten gaming lore right there.
If a mere 100 onscreen zombies isn’t enough to make you interested in the Wii port of Dead Rising, check out this list of improvements over the 360 original:
- Combat controls will mimic Resident Evil 4.
- Selectable difficulty level.
- Improved save system.
- Larger text!
- Overtime mode now part of the main game.
And of course, waggle.
The Ghostbusters article has a sidebar interview with Saturday Night Live legend and bustin’ co-creator Dan Aykroyd in which Danny is at his nutjob best. Known for being a believer in the occult, ghosts and other things that go bump in the night, Aykroyd offers this classic meander when asked about the NES Advantage joystick appearing in the movie Ghostbusters II.
Well, this is ectoplasm and psychic residue. The Kirlians had an experiment – they were the Russian people who used to take photos of digits that had been removed from a guy’s hand and then you’d take a picture and the aura would still be there. They weighed the soul, the atomic soul, at one point…. But one of the things they filmed was a woman blowing smoke into a fishbowl and then shaping letters with the smoke once it was inside there. And there are many mentalists, and I can tell you for sure that there are people who can levitate….
Little King’s Story (Wii) is one to watch, reading like a Zelda-meets-Pikmin-meets-Chulip kind of game. Development began when producer Yoshiro Kimura asked executive producer Yasuhiro Wada “Can’t you make anything other than Harvest Moon?” Which is a great way to start a conversation.
As the little king himself, you’ll attract townspeople to your conquering party by getting to know their individual schedules, professions and lifestyles. Once drafted, the villagers follow you throughout the land in a mob… and when you reach an enemy or other obstacle, you send out the villagers to deal with the problem. Already, the game has that unique mix of cute and clever that hallmarks some of the best games on Nintendo systems… although one wonders if the game can bridge the third-party chasm that always seems to get in the way of runaway success.
Virtual Console Staff Picks: My Pokemon Ranch (WiiWare), Fatal Fury 2 (NEOGEO), Samurai Shodown (NEOGEO)
Top scoring Wii review: Madden NFL 09 All-Play, 9.0 (all scores out of 10)
Top scoring DS review: a three-way 8.0 tie: Bangai-O Spirits, Guitar Hero: On Tour, New International Track & Field
Lowest rated Wii review: Alone in the Dark, 4.0
Lowest rated DS review: Izuna 2: The Unemployed Ninja Returns, 5.0
Crystal Chronicles TCO: I think we’re up to $24 in add-on DLC for Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King, counting in the second wave of downloads listed in this issue. Although the $1 bikini for the statuesque female assistant character seems like a good deal.
Missing the Point: Cooking Mama World Kitchen will not address the critical failing of the previous Cooking Mama game on Wii… the fact that pretend-chopping in mid-air is not a suitably immersive substitute for actually chopping. The DS original was well-received because the tactile feedback of the touchscreen absolutely made the game (and it was only $20 brand new). Free-floating utensils on the Wii Remote just did not work. Can’t somebody get the idea to combo this with the Wii Balance Board, so you can actually feel like you’re cooking?
The fine line of Mario sports: I hate when Nintendo craps out a featureless sports title like Mario Power Tennis, but I also hate when Nintendo tarts up a game with bizarre, tedious single-player modes… like this issue’s Mario Super Sluggers. How about taking all the Mario Sports games (Kart, Golf, Tennis, Baseball) and putting them into one amazing Mario Marathon disk, where every mode is genuinely cool and when you get bored with one sport, there’s always another.
Next month in Nintendo Power… not much of a tease, just a promise for a major Wario Land: Shake It article and additional E3 coverage (um, Animal Crossing maybe?). The only secret is a “hot new title that didn’t appear at the show.” See you next month, Nintendo Poweraniacosaurbots!
Tags: adventure island, cooking mama, dead rising, ds, ghostbusters, little king's story, mario super sluggers, my life as a king, nintendo power, Read-a-Long, sonic and the black knight, wii, wiiware