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Animal Crossing classic GameCube review. Nintendo debuts its “sim life” communication series


Animal Crossing for GameCubeAnimal Crossing was one of Nintendo’s new franchises for the Nintendo GameCube. For the first time in a long while, Nintendo had developed an original series that had nothing to do with it’s hallmark characters. No Link, no Samus, no Starfox, no Mario.

Along with Pikmin, Animal Crossing was a bold new direction for a video game that was unlike anything Nintendo had ever done before.

Animal Crossing mixes various elements similar to an RPG or adventure game, including speaking to other characters, going on little “missions” (I use mission loosely), collecting items and even “leveling up” in a way, although in this game it comes in the form of earning a bigger living quarters, which you do by collecting money and paying off your debt.

Not knowing exactly what to call the game, Nintendo labeled it as a “Communication” game, due to how frequently your character needs to interact with the other animals in your village. In addition to this, three other players can move into houses of their own within your village, and you can interact with them via letter writing, gift giving and leaving messages on bulletin boards within your town. Also coming into play is the ability to visit the towns of other players.

But Animal Crossing is less of a sim, in my humble opinion, and more of a “Collection Game”. Although in actuality, I think you could get by just calling the game an “Adventure” game. The only reason that doesn’t fit though is due to the fact that the entire game is set in your one little village (with the exception of when you visit the towns of other players) so you aren’t exactly “exploring” new locations as if you were on an adventure, you ARE however exploring your own town.

The most unique aspect of Animal Crossing came from it’s use of the GameCube’s built-in internal clock (which also works with the Wii, by the way, thanks to the Wii’s backwards compatibility). This meant that the game’s time of day, seasons and events (including the celebration of holidays) actually correspond to real life. This was unique and meant that Animal Crossing lived on even when you were not playing the game. Thus you’d literally have to play everyday, to see everything the game had to offer.

And as you’ll see in my review below, that meant that Animal Crossing is still viable with new things to discover, even when you play it in 2008, six years after it’s original release.

Animal Crossing GameCube logo

System: GameCube
Also On: None
Release Date: USA September 15, 2002 – EUR September 24, 2004 – AUS October 17, 2003 – JAP December 14, 2001, June 27, 2003 (re-release)
Genre: Life Sim/Adventure/Collection/Miscellaneous
Players: Four people can live in the same village, but only one can play at a time.
Save: Four save files max on one memory card. 58-67 blocks to save. That’s 57 blocks for “town data”, and 1 block each for NES data (high scores) and Animal Crossing “special data” (bonus letters)
Controllers: GameCube controller required
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Origin: Japan
Rated: E for Everyone (contains Comic Mischief)

Animal Crossing is a really unique game that is one part Harvest Moon, one part The Sims, and one part RPG.

When you first fire up the game, you will create your character by telling the person who comes to see you that you are “new”. If you have played before, you will select your name from a list. This is the game’s “file select” menu, but it’s just integrated into the game instead of having you browse menus. If you are new, you will start the game on a train, as a cat named Rover sits across from you.

He will start chatting and ask you some questions, this is where you create your character. He will ask you your name, and you will be able to enter your name on the Virtual keyboard. Whenever you are required to write something, this is the keyboard that will come up. You can use either the D-Pad or the Control Stick to navigate the letters, the A Button enters a letter while the B Button deletes one or backspaces. You can also use button shortcuts, the L Button is the space bar, the R Button switches between lower-case and capital letters, and you can use the Y Button to switch to two other keyboards for various letters and symbols. Press Start to confirm what you have entered on the keyboard.

Rover will then follow-up by asking if you like your name. Where you have the option to say it’s either “Cool” or “Cute”, naturally if you select “cool”, you’ll be a boy, and if you select “cute” you will be a girl, although if you select the wrong one you can change it with the follow-up question. Rover will ask a few more questions, where you can either be nice or mean, but it reaches the same conclusion.

Rover asks if you are moving into the town (which you will name if you haven’t done so before) and then says he will hook you up with a house because he knows someone, a friend of his (Tom Nook, you’ll be hearing a lot about him) who runs the shop in your town. He calls Nook on his cell and, in typical Animal Crossing humor, does an impression of Mario. Tom Nook gives him the okay, and he comes back to tell you that there are some houses available to rent, and that Nook is willing to let you move in and will absorb the loss.

Animal Crossing Rover Screenshot

Your train then arrives and you hop off in the town that is the setting for the game. Tom Nook introduces himself, pokes fun at you and then takes you to one of the four houses you can move into. If one isn’t already taken, then you can select it as your home. The “cozy” place, naturally, turns out to be little more than a shack, with simply a wooden box with a journal and a radio tucked in the corner of the little place, complete with metal floor and wooden walls. He will then give you a few tips, telling you to not take other people’s stuff, but to use it as inspiration for organizing your own place. He then tells you about the weird “creature” by your door. He explains that it’s a Gyroid, where you can have it hold items for you (that you can sell to other players), teach it messages to tell visitors (other players) and save your game. Finally, he gives you the price of the house (19,000 Bells, the games currency) once you agree to move in, and when you can’t pay it, he offers you a job at his store to work part time to pay off the debt.

This part of the game serves as the tutorial and gets you acclimated with how the game plays. Nook gives you a uniform, which you can wear by going into your inventory and putting it on your character. He will then give you seeds to plant and then you’ll need to introduce yourself to the townsfolk. They in turn will give you some furniture for your house. This is basically how the rest of the game will work.

The whole game is easily accessible to new players (although there is a ton of text to read, so it’s not necessarily for kids that are too young to understand) and the game is completely open-ended. Once you have introduced yourself to all the characters, Tom Nook will send you on a few “missions”, asking you to complete any tasks that the villagers may have. This is a big part of the game. Basically you will talk to one of the residents and they will ask you to either “deliver” an item to another character or “pick-up” an item from another character. They will also sometimes ask you to do something different, such as bring them a fish. A task will always be the first option after you talk to an animal. Your reward for doing this will be a piece of furniture, a carpet, a shirt and sometimes something else, such as a piece of fruit that doesn’t grow in your village.

Eventually you will earn the tools of the trade, including an axe, a fishing rod and a shovel. Each item allows you to do what you’d expect. You will come across items hidden in the ground that you can dig up with the shovel, these include items that villagers will hide in the ground, buried fossils (you will see a star in the dirt), money (which will shine) and the ability to dig holes in the ground for planting fruit trees. The fishing rod obviously lets you fish in the river and at the beach and last, but not least, the ax allows you to cut down trees (make sure to dig up the stump with the shovel when you do).

Animal Crossing Shovel Screenshot

The controls in the game are about as easy as can be. You move around with the control stick, use the B Button to run as well as to pick things up, the A Button to open doors and talk to people, and the A Button to select items. You can open your inventory with the Y Button and your map with the X Button. Once in your inventory, you’ll see ten slots that can hold items. You can only carry as many items as there are slots, plus one in your hand. If you try to pick up another item when your inventory is maxed, you’ll either have to swap it with another item in your inventory or drop it.

Once in your inventory you’ll see the name of your town at the top, followed by your name and then how much money, or Bells, you have. You’ll also see ten slots for letters on the right and your character on the upper left, which will change depending on what he has equipped.

You can move any item around to another slot by pressing A on the item and selecting “Grab”, or simply pressing the L Button. You can move the cursor around with the control stick. Once you select an item you can do several things with it, such as move it to your character to equip it (such as with the shovel or with a piece of clothing), move it to your money if it’s a money bag (which will add it to your amount), plant it if it’s a seed or bury an item.

Animal Crossing Inventory Screenshot

You can use the X Button to select multiple items (great for selling an entire inventory full of seashells to Tom Nook, for example) and you can use the R Button to switch between screens. The sub-screens show you how many fish and bugs you have collected. Finally, you’ll see a little tab in the middle on the left with a pencil icon. Select this to see up to eight drawings that you have created.

Animal Crossing is a game without real goals, although much like The Sims, there are actually some goals for those people who want to feel as if they are attaining to something.

The first goal is paying off your debt to Tom Nook. You can do this at the Post Office that you will find in your town. You can give as little or as much money towards paying off your debt as you like. This is something you will want to do because as you pay it off, you will increase the size of your home. You will even be given a basement for storing more items.

The secondary goals will take just as long or longer to do than your debt. They include filling out the town museum with new dinosaur fossils, insects, fish and paintings, and then filling out your Tom Nook catalog.

Animal Crossing, as mentioned above, corresponds to actual time. So if it’s daylight outside in real life, it will be so in the game. This has a big effect on the game, particularly having to do with the game’s major locations.

There are several locations in your Animal Crossing town that are important. Here is a list of them as well as their importance:

Tom Nook's Shop Nookway in Animal CrossingThe Post Office: The Post Office in Animal Crossing is open 24-hours a day and is run by Pelly, Phyllis, and Pete (Pete is the delivery boy). Inside the Post Office you can talk to the animal at the counter to mail any letters you have written. This is also where you pay off your debt to Tom Nook. Lastly, you can save any letters and she will store them for you. You can then view them anytime you like by selecting “Save Letter”, moving the cursor to a letter and selecting “read”. Finally, this is where you will find an E-Reader Machine that allows you to transmit items, songs, etc. from any Animal Crossing E-Reader Cards to your game.

Animal Crossing Farway Museum ScreenshotFarway Museum: Manned by Blathers the Owl, this Museum is open 24-hours a day and is where you will want to trade in any items that the museum doesn’t have (it starts off empty) to start filling the museum up. The museum collects dinosaur fossils, fish, bugs and lastly, pictures. To donate any of the above items to the Museum, simply talk to Blathers and select “donate”. The catch is with Fossils, which you will need to dig-up first with your shovel (look for a star in the ground) and then you will need to create a new letter, attach the fossil to it (simply grab it and move it over to the new letter you created, which will be blue) and then mail it. You will then receive the identified fossil in the mail.

Animal Crossing Police Station ScreenshotThe Police Station: The Police Station is open 24 hours and is guarded by Copper and manned inside by Booker, both dogs. The Police Station is where to go to find items in the lost and found, which you can claim. Sometimes one of your own items will end up here if you leave it on the ground. Talk to Copper to find out about upcoming events, as well as to receive a town map of a friend’s town that you are visiting.

Animal Crossing Wishing Well ScreenshotThe Wishing Well: The Wishing Well is where you can find out (go up to it and press A) the state of your town. This is what determines whether you will get new residents who move in. And it is based on the population of trees (flowers don’t count), which can either be too much for an “acre” (one square on your map) or too little. If it’s too much, you’ll want to clear out some trees with your axe. If it’s too little, then you’ll want to plant some trees. You’ll also need to pull out any weeds you see. If you can keep your town in the best form for two straight weeks you will receive the mythical Golden Axe. The Wishing Well is also where you can “Apologize”, you will need to do this if you are on a mission from an animal and the animal has moved away. You will then Apologize and throw the item in the well to get rid of it. Lastly, the Wishing Well is a gathering place for events, and it is where you will find the town mayor, Tortimer the turtle, on those special occasions. Talk to the mayor on a holiday to receive a unique one-of-a-kind item.

Animal Crossing Able Sisters Tailor ScreenshotThe Able Sisters Tailor: The Tailor is open from 7am to 2am and this run by Sable and Mable Abel. This is where you can design your own patterns that you can use on umbrellas, shirts, or other places, such as a billboard by your home, as wallpaper for your house, or to display on your door.

Animal Crossing Train Station ScreenshotThe Train Station: The Train Station is manned by Porter the monkey, and this is where you will go when you want to visit a friend’s town. It is open 24-hours a day, but you can only visit a friends town if they bring over their memory card with their saved data.

Animal Crossing Garbage Dump ScreenshotThe Garbage Dump: This is where you can drop off any unwanted items. Leave it there and the garbage collector’s will take it away. Open 24 hours, you can also find items left by other residents here, which you can pick up. Be sure to check it every day.

A screenshot of your house in Animal CrossingYour House: Last but not least, you will find the homes in Animal Crossing that are houses of you and anyone else playing on your game (up to three others). You will find all four homes in one location. It’s inside your house that you will decorate with items you recieve from animals. There are a huge variety of items including dressers (which you can store items in), chairs, beds, tables, radios (which allow you to play music that you get from K.K. Slider, more on that later), vanitys, and a whole slew of other items, from Rocket Ships to construction signs to plants to Gyroids (strange creatures that make sounds). You can even display collectable items like shirts, fossils, bugs and fish, in your house. All items can be moved around and re-arranged using the A Button. Press the B Button to pick them back up and add them to your inventory (if you do so with holding items you’ll also add anything inside them to your inventory) You will also have a journal that you can use to check special dates or keep notes. You can also go into the houses of other players, although you obviously can’t set any of your items down or pick any of theirs up. In the middle of the houses you will find the town bulletin board. This is open 24-hours and will alert you to upcoming events. Sometimes a fellow resident will hide a special item and tell you the general acre to dig in to find it. You can also leave notes here and can see any notes that other players leave.

Animal Crossing Screenshot of The LighthouseThe Lighthouse
You will find a Lighthouse on the beach. You can’t go inside it and it serves no purpose except during Winter. Where one of the events has the mayor, Tortimer, who mans the lighthouse, going on vacation. While on vacation he will ask you to keep an eye on the lighthouse. If you do a good job, he will reward you.

These are the primary areas of your town. However events will sometimes take place in other random acres. For example, during November you will have the Fall Fishing Tourney, which takes place at the town pond. There is also a town Melody Board, that you can find near the Post Office. This board gives you the town tune, and you can change it if you like. You may want to search online for certain fun tunes to enter here.

And you’ll also have some other visitors who will come and set-up shop briefly at your town. These characters are special and will never be in your town for more than one day. There are Holiday characters, who visit only during certain Holidays, and Event Characters, who will show up more often.

Here is a list of all the Event Characters:

Joan the Boar Animal Crossing Character ArtworkJoan the Boar
This wandering boar will sell you turnips every Sunday morning, from 6am till noon. You will find her wandering around in a random acre of the town. Turnips are a special commodity that acts as Animal Crossing’s own little stock market. You can buy turnips in bunches of either 10, 50 or 100. And you can purchase as many as you like. You will then sell them during the week to Tom Nook. His prices for the turnips will change everyday. Some days you will gain a profit as he will buy them for more than you paid for them, but other days he may not give you as much as you bought them for, which means you’ll take a loss. The turnips go bad after a week, so the key is to sell them when you know for sure that you are making a profit, but it’s a gamble because you never know how much his price will be the next day. Make sure to sell them before the next Sunday or they will spoil.

Animal Crossing K.K. Slider Character ArtworkK.K. Slider
The town’s groovy, hippie-like resident musician, K.K. Slider (who’s real name is Totakeke) will visit your town every Saturday evening from 8pm till midnight. You will find him sitting on the box at the Train Station. He will play you a random song on his banjo, unless you request a certain song. The game never gives you a list per se, but you can find out about different songs by checking the stereo in the homes of your fellow villagers. Of course, it’s easier to just find the list online. If you request a song, you must enter the name exactly as it’s printed, he then will play you the song. If you don’t request one, then he will play a random song. K.K. Sliders tunes are one of the best parts of the game if you ask me, each song is unique, and when he plays it the credits for Animal Crossing will roll as the screen darkens, light shines on K.K., he starts strumming his banjo, and he SINGS the song. The way he sings is absolutely hilarious, and you will look forward to each and every Saturday, not only to grow your list of songs, but also to hear him sing. He will then give you a soundcheck, which is a copy of that song that you can play on your stereo. There are 55 songs total(!) and a few hidden ones that you can only get by requesting them. To check how many songs you have, talk to Tom Nook where you can view all your songs under your Catalog, alternatively you can check how many songs you have by going to the music player in your house and selecting “View Library”.

Animal Crossing Crazy Redd Character ArtworkCrazy Redd the Fox
Crazy Redd is a sly traveling salesmen Fox who will visit your town from time to time. When he does, he will set up shop in a tent on a random acre (You will know it’s him because the tent says “Black Market” with the word “Black” crossed out). Crazy Redd will sell you two rare items at high prices, but will also try to trick you by selling one regular item (that you can get at Tom Nook’s) at an outrageous price. The best way to avoid this is to keep track of what items you have so that you will be able to recognize them at Redd’s.

Animal Crossing Sahara Character ArtworkSaharah the Camel
Saharah is another wandering sales-person who will visit your town from time to time and is open for 24 hours. She will sell you rare carpets that you can’t get any other way. These will help you complete a set that you will need to obtain a higher score from the HRA. Unlike the other sales-people that will visit your town, she has a unique way of doing business. The only way to get carpets from her is to trade in a carpet of yours, along with some money. Her prices however, like all the traveling sales-men, are steep and will go up each time you purchase a carpet.

Animal Crossing Gracie Character ArtworkGracie the Giraffe
Gracie will visit your town from time to time in her shiny sports car and will sell you rare shirts, that you can’t get anywhere else. In addition to getting your hands on rare shirts, you will be able to get some special ones if you do a good enough job in a unique car-washing mini-game which has you tapping the A Button with lightning speed to clean it up.

Animal Crossing Gulliver Character ArtworkGulliver the Seagull Sailor
Gulliver is a sailing seagull that will wash up on the beach in your village once a week. Keep talking to him to hear his tales of adventure until he gives you an item. Make sure to check the beach every week because he has a huge number of items to give you and all of them are rare and cannot be given elsewhere.

Animal Crossing Katrina Character ArtworkKatrina the Fortune-Telling Cat
Katrina is a black cat who will tell your fortune. She will randomly visit your village and set up shop in a random acre where you can visit her at 9pm (she stays for 24 hours afterward). Talk to her to have her tell you your forturne. Which is typically a bunch of nonsense, but if you keep it up she will eventually give you a special forturne. These will increase the amount of luck you have in the village for that day, including: Love (villagers of the opposite sex will be attracted to you), Unpopularity (Villagers will be cold to you), Lucky Finances (You’ll be able to find more money than normal), Lucky Materials (it’ll be easier to obtain rare items) and Unlucky (you’ll slip and fall a lot). In order to get another special fortune you’ll have to wait until her next visit.

Animal Crossing Wendell Character ArtworkWendell the Traveling Walrus Artist
Wendell will visit your town from time to time, although more rarely than other characters. Like Sarah and her carpets, Wendell will give you a piece of rare Wallpaper. You can obtain more than one (up to three) if you talk to Wendell as another player from your village, but he will only give you one Wallpaper per character per visit. The only catch is that you must give the starving artist some fish in return for his wallpaper. He loves all fish, so any kind will do.

Animal Crossing Wisp Character ArtworkWisp the Ghost
Wisp is a late night visitor who comes to scare the naughty into shape . . . and no he has no connection to Santa Clause. Actually wisp will pay you a visit late at night if you have been too lazy to clear your village of weeds. He is invisible but will whisper to you. When he does he will materialize and ask you to catch five spirits with your net. Do so and he will reward you by either clearing your town of weeds, painting your roof or giving you an item.

In addition to the above, your Animal Crossing town will have a number of residents who will be in your town day after day. All told, there are a staggering 218 normal villagers. These characters will move in and out of your village from time to time (depending, as mentioned above, on how much or how little green [i.e. trees] there is) but they will largely stay for quite a while and you can only have up to 15 villagers at any one time. Although if you don’t talk to a villager for a long while, they may move. If they do move, they will be gone forever unless you have a second memory card with town data inserted into the 2nd Memory Card slot, then they will move there and may still remember your character.

However having such a large number of characters and only being able to have 15 at a time makes it virtually impossible to see every character in the game. Which is a bummer because every character has their own unique personality. Some will be peppy, some grumpy, others masculine, etc. etc. As the name of the game suggests, all of the villagers in your town are animals, while your characters is a human (ignoring the fact that he has horns growing out of his head, of course . . .). Each villager even has a funny phrase that they will repeat at the end of their lines when you talk to them. Example of some of the phrases in my game include “kittycat”, “pthpth”, “grumble”, “donk”, “hip-oh”, “splish”, “la-di-da”, “cheepers”, “toady”, etc. Typically these phrases will be related to what type of animal the characters is. Every once in a while they’ll ask you if you want to change it, and you can change it to whatever you like. Villagers also have moods that will randomly shift, they can be angry, depressed, etc.

This Animal Crossing screenshot has you talking to Apollo

These emotions are translated to the player through a variety of different animations and effects that will randomly come over the character to convey a certain emotion. These include a raining storm cloud when they are depressed, a red puff when they are angry, a light bulb when they have an idea, etc. Some of them are really common, such a dark line that flashes across their eyes when they suspect something of you, flowers that come pouring out of them if they are super happy, a heart that floats up above them when they love something, a question mark or exclamation point (self-explanatory), tears (along with a hilarious shake of the body as they panic) and a hilarious “surprise” animation. In addition to the effects, the characters are also quite animated themselves, and they’re eyes and face will chance as they speak to you. This all combines to make the characters very unique, appealing, charming and fun to chat with, even though they will often repeat lines. Yet even still, they have so much to say that it takes quite a lot before you grow tired, and even talking to the same character multiple times can give you different results. This creates the illusion of them having a ton to say. Cause generally, they do.

You will want to talk to the Animals for a variety of reasons, but the chief goal of them all is to gain new objects, in the form of furniture, shirts, umbrellas, stationary and, occasionally fruit. These are all things that can be gotten elsewhere, but you never know when you will get something rare from an animal, or when they will give you something that you have yet to buy in Tom Nook’s shop.

Animal Crossing Tom Nook's Shop Screenshot

The first way to get something from a villager is to do a task for them, as mentioned above. I like to call these “missions”, but in reality they are simply fetch quests. They will tell you to get a certain item that, most of the time, another character borrowed from them. You will then go find that character and ask for the item back. When you return it to the original villager, they will reward you with an item. Sometimes these fetch quests will be longer, requiring you to talk to multiple characters who just happened to lend that particular item you need to another character. Other times they will ask you to bring them something, such as a fish or an insect. All characters will have these tasks for you, and you will want to do them to gain new items as well as to make them happier toward you, which will give you a better chance of getting a good item from them in a trade later. However, don’t be looking for variety. Just because I call them “missions”, doesn’t mean this is GTA. There are only a few items that they will request and thus you will see the same ones over and over again. However either way all you are doing is fetching the item anyway, so I suppose it doesn’t really matter what item it is, cause you’re doing the same action each time. Repetitive? Yes it can be. But Animal Crossing, much like The Sims, is a game built in repetition, but that doesn’t mean that it makes the action boring. Besides, it’s always fun to see what item they will give you . . . a new piece of furniture? Something rare that you haven’t gotten before, a new carpet, a new wallpaper, a new shirt?

In addition to obtaining items by doing these missions, you can also always select the second option when you talk to a villager (the first is always a mission while the third is always “never mind”). This will cause them to say something random (”I really like the weather today”, etc.), give you a tip (”shaking trees too much may cause you to be stung by bees”), trade an item with you or give you money for an item in your inventory, or possibly play a kind of mini-game with you (such as one that has you guessing a number to receive a certain item, or one in which you must answer questions correctly).

Doing this will also help you complete your secondary objective, which is filling up your Tom Nook Catalog. I.e. collecting every item in the game. Once you get a new item, it is added to the Catalog, which you can view by talking to Tom Nook. The Catalog will show you every item you have collected, and unless it’s a rare item, then you can order that, item for a price, at any time. The Catalog is divided into sections, including: Furniture, Wallpaper, Carpet, Clothing, Items (umbrella’s and your tools), Stationary, Gyroids, Fossils and Music. It will also tell you how many of each item you have obtained, although it won’t tell you the max number of items that are in the game . . .

This is one of the few shortcomings in my opinion. Since one of the main goals is to collect all the items in the game (which isn’t a stated goal makes sense as one) Nintendo should’ve made it easier for players to organize and keep track of their goal. For example, there should be a way to see if you already have an item without having to talk to Tom Nook to double check your Catalog. And so, naturally, you should also be able to view your Catalog at any time.

This really came into play when I wanted to finally sell off all the items that had been building up in my town since I first started playing. Instead of being able to easily see whether it was an item I had doubles of (in which case, I might want to keep one and sell or trade the other), I ended up writing down each item and double checking that list to see if I had doubles. I also wish they would’ve added a status bar to your catalog for each category. This would make it fun to see the line build up until you reach the end goal of having obtained every item in that category. They wouldn’t even have had to reveal the max number of items. Any of these suggestions would’ve been great, as it stands, players will simply look online or in a strategy guide to find out this information.

So what does a typical Animal Crossing day look like? Outside of the above, one of the first things you will want to do when you start playing is to increase your amount of Bells. This can be done several ways. The easiest way, especially starting off, is to collect the seashells that line the beach, and then sell them to Tom Nook. The second easiest way is to collect fruit. Fruit will grow on the trees in your village, and each village has it’s own kind of fruit that only grows in that village. This means that your friends will most likely have a different kind of main fruit in their village than you do. There is only one type of main fruit, but you will occasionally be given new fruit by the villagers that doesn’t grow in your village. And you can plant this fruit by digging a hole and “planting” the fruit in it, to grow a fruit tree (which you will need to check on at least once a day, in the morning, or else it will disappear and not grow). The types of fruit in the game include: Pears, Peaches, Cherries, Oranges, Apples, and Coconut (think I’m missing one . . .). You will get more Bells from Tom Nook if you sell him a fruit that isn’t from your village, although the price (500 Bells) is always the same no matter what type of fruit it is.

Another way to get money is by simply selling items you have, and it can include almost anything: Furniture, Stationary, Clothes, Umbrellas, Fish, Insects, Fossils. You can also get money by talking to villagers who will occasionally offer to buy something in your inventory if you select the second option when talking to them. However, you never know if the price they ask will be better than what Tom Nook will give you (even though usually it is) so there is a sense of risk and reward in doing so, and if you say no when a villager offers to buy something, that doesn’t reflect well on you (and can get them angry).

The last way to get money in the game is by shaking trees. This may cause a batch of 100 Bells to fall from it’s branches (and occasionally a rare item, which will happen once every day in one of the trees you shake). Although not a lot, this will add up. And let’s face it, it’s addictive to shake those damn trees . . . I always find myself shaking each and every one! Like a lot of things in Animal Crossing though, there is a sense of risk and reward, because you will ocassionally drop a honeycomb full of bees, who will sting you! This will cause various reactions from the villagers when you talk to them (from humor to fright) and can have a negative reaction.

Probably the best items to sell to Tom Nook that are easily attainable are Fossils, he will give you a very good price for most of them, typically over 1,000 Bells. Be careful though, some fossils are very rare.

As such, you will always want to be on the lookout for spots in the ground that you can dig up with your shovel to find items. Items hidden in the ground will include fossils, Gyroids and occasionally pitfalls (a prank item whose only use is to plant it in the ground, which will cause a villager to fall into it if they step over it) and an item that a villager has buried. You will also come across shining spots in the ground, which will offer up 1,000 Bells. Plant piece of fruit to create a special fruit tree, and if you feel really lucky, by another axe (so you have two in your inventory) and bury it in the shining spot. Shake the tree that grows for your chance to get the legendary Golden Shovel.

When you dig up fossils, they will originally be in the form of unidentified fossils, as mentioned above you will need to create a letter to the Faraway Musuem, attach the fossil and then send it in to get identified. It will then be mailed back to you. Once you have done that, you will want to make sure to take that particular fossil to the Museum to add it to your collection if you haven’t already done so.

Likewise, you will want to do so with any fish or insects you collect. To fish, you simply walk up to any body of water with your Fishing Rod equipped (walk, don’t run, running will scare the fish) and press the A Button to throw in the lure. From there it is simply a waiting game. Rinse and repeat until a fish bites. When it does, your controller will rumble and it will nibble a few times before the fish turns a shadowy color which is your clue to press the A Button. Time it right to pull the fish up. If it’s a fish you haven’t caught before, take it to the Museum to add it to your collection, at which point Blathers will take it from your inventory, and add it to the Museum (as he does with all donated items, unless it’s one you already donated, then he gives it back).

As for insects, you will occasionally find them in the piles of leaves around the town, hanging from trees or climbing on flowers. In order to catch one, you will need to equip the Bug Catching Net. You will then want to hold the A Button to ready the net for swinging, which will also make you creep slowly. Then get close enough to let loose with the net and catch a bug. Like with fish, there are a ton of different types of bugs to catch. If you haven’t already, then donate it to the Museum to build up your collection. If you have donated it already, then sell it to Nook or trade it with a villager.

The only way to get the mythical Golden Fishing Rod and Golden Bug-Catching Net is to catch every kind of fish and bug in the game. To say that this is quite a feat is an understatement. Because of the game’s real-time clock, certain bugs and fish will only be obtainable during certain seasons (Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer are all represented in Animal Crossing, as is various weather like rain and snow) which means that you will have to literally play all year to get every type of fish and bug. Good luck!

After doing the above, continuing on with a typical day in Animal Crossing, there are only a few things left. And most of it involves places. You will want to check the dump and the Lost and Found at the Police Station each day for new items. You will also want to occasionally compose letters to various town residents and send them off at the post office, this will make them happy and they will occasionally send you items in return. You will want to check the Wishing Well to find out the state of your town, and appropriately plant or eliminate trees and weeds. You will find several weeds growing around your town each day (if you don’t play the game for a long time and come back your town will be COVERED in weeds) and you’ll want to walk over to them and press the B Button to pluck them and make your town prettier.

Last but not least is Nook’s shop. You will want to buy any new items he has to increase your catalog. In addition to being able to sell them back to Nook (for much less) or trade them with villagers (almost always for more Bells than Nook would give, or for another item they’ll trade you) you will be able to use the items to decorate your house. Furniture and other random objects (from pool tables to tvs to a weight bench, a chess table and various plants, and much, much, much more) can be placed in your home by “Dropipng” them, at which point they can be pushed and turned to your hearts content. Each and everyday your house will be rated by the HRA and given a score. This score can be increased by making sure you stick to certain themes of items.

For each item you buy at Nook’s, you will be given a raffle ticket. For every five tickets, you will be able to enter Nook’s raffle at the end of the month, where you can net rare items like an NES game. It’s a good idea to make sure you have enough raffles to earn all three items that he raffles, as they are rare and hard to come by.

Yes I did say NES games. One of the best features of Animal Crossing on the GameCube (and a feature missing from both Animal Crossing: Wild World on DS and Animal Crossing: City Folk on the Wii) is the fact that the most rare, and treasured items of all, are PLAYABLE NES games. If there is any such goal in Animal Crossing that is one that you REALLY will want to attain, it would be unlocking every NES game, because they are all playable, which adds significantly to the value of the Animal Crossing itself. Once you buy or win an NES game, drop it in your house (preferably on a table) and go up to it and press A to play it. Games such as Excitebike, Donkey Kong (1, 3, Junior & Jr. Math), Clu Clu Land, Balloon Fight, Baseball, Wario’s Woods, Golf, The Legend of Zelda, Mario Bros., Ice Climber, Tennis, Soccer, Punch-Out!! and Pinball are all hidden in the game. Best of all, Animal Crossing will even save your high scores in each game, something that not even some of the normal NES games did upon their release! All in all, there are a whopping 24 NES games to be found in Animal Crossing. Advance Play even allows you to connect your GameBoy Advance to the game and upload the smaller NES games to the handheld for play.

After doing all of the above, there are a few other activities in Animal Crossing before we get into the specific Holiday-related ones.

First of all, there is the HRA (The Happy Room Academy). This is the group, as mentioned above, that rates your house. The HRA will send you a letter every day that will tell you your current house score. This is judged based on what items you have in your house and, to an extent, how it’s arranged. However, the game only gives you vague tips as to how to increase it, and never spells it out for you. So I will do so here, because it is a fun part of the game.

It is a bit complex, but here are the gist of things. There are three types of Furniture in the game that go towards the HRA score: Sets, Themes and Series. Themes include decorative objects which don’t serve a purpose except for looking cool. An example of this is the Chess theme, which includes items like a chess board and life-size chess pieces. A series is a group of furniture that are all the same type, such as the Ranch, Modern, Lovely, and Kiddie series. Each one will include furniture like a bed, table, couch, chair, desk, lamp, pantry, etc. Last, but not least, are Sets. These are items that don’t fit into the above two categories and include only a few items. The Frog Set, for example, includes the Lily-Pad Table and Froggy Chair.

Generally, Themes and Series should go on the first floor (complete with matching carpet and walllpaper) with Sets going in the basement (once you unlock it). Having any of them complete will net you more points. In addition, there are special items that you can add to your house that will increase the amount of points you earn, such as items you get from characters like Tortimer or other special Holiday characters (such as the Spooky Halloween series). In addition, points are deducted for any clutter laying on the floor (unless you put it in your basement), so it’s best to put those things away in dressers or other storage, or keep them laying on the ground around the village. In addition, you need to make sure that any usable items (such as chairs, which you can sit on, or musical items that you can “play” by pressing the A Button to have them make a sound) are positioned so that you can access them without moving them. Additionally, items with a face should be facing away from a wall, and not towards a wall (that includes the see-through wall where your door is, face them away for more points, even if it means you can’t see the front of the object). Having a high HRA score will net you a few exclusive items that you can’t get any other way, which naturally, will help you complete your catalog.

Last, but definitely not least, there is Feng Shui. Feng Shui in real-life was an ancient Chinese practice where the aesthetics of your environment were thought to bring good fortune. In modern times, it has come to be known as a way of using certain colors and placement of furniture (such as chairs and tables) to effect the mood of a person in a positive way. So a restaurant might make the room a certain color because it’s thought that that color will unconsciously make you want to stick around. Thus you will eat more food, giving them more money (naturally). In Animal Crossing, Feng Shui is a way of organizing and color coding your home in order to bring you good luck (and help with your HRA score too). Like with the HRA, Feng Shui is only alluded to by villagers and is never completely spelled out for you, though you will get the occasional tip. To maximize Feng Shui in the game, you will want to color code the top of your house with orange objects, the right side with red objects, the bottom part of your house with green objects and the left side with yellow objects. The feng shui however only extends a few grids out, so the middle of your room won’t effect your Feng Shui. In addition, the corners of the room overlap, allowing you to use both colors. A positive Feng Shui will improve your “good luck” with finding items, rare items and money. Always a good thing!

Finally, we come to one of the most dynamic parts of Animal Crossing. And that is the game’s real-time clock . . . or rather it’s real-time calender. As stated many times, the residents of your town will celebrate REAL holidays, such as Christmas, Halloween and Thanksgiving, albeit, some with different names (Christmas is called “Toy Day”, for example). They even celebrate lesser holidays such as Mayor Day (President’s Day) and the like. On the big days, such as Halloween, Christmas and Thanksgiving, you will have special characters that visit your town. Here is a brief(er) rundown of them as well as what you will want to do on that day and the special events and items that take place.

Jack the King of Halloween
On Halloween (which is actually called so in the game) all the villagers dress up as Jack (i.e. they put a Jack O’Lantern on their heads) so that you can’t tell the villagers apart. They will then run up to you demanding candy. Candy is sold all month long during October, and you’ll want to stock up on it for this night. Contrary to what the villagers want you to think, candy is the last thing you want to give them.

Animal Crossing Jack the King of Halloween Character Artwork

Why? Because hidden amongst all the villagers is the true Jack, the King of Halloween, who is naturally dressed up just like the rest of the villagers and will appear in a random acre. The only way to tell it’s Jack is because Jack won’t chase you, unlike the normal villagers. But just like them, Jack will demand candy. And you better have candy! If not, you will miss out on your reward, which is a piece of the Spooky series (which includes wallpaper and carpet amongst the furniture). If you don’t have candy, Jack, like the villagers, will turn your items into bum items (Jack O’Lantern and a Jack in the Box) and your shirt into rags. The best way to avoid this is to wear a crappy shirt you don’t care about, and then create blank letters and attach each piece of candy to those letters, this will protect your candy. After getting an item from Jack, he will disappear again to a random acre. If you manage to find him again, you can trade in candy to get another item in the Spooky series.

And be sure that you put the candy from your letters to your inventory BEFORE you talk to him, or else you will be “tricked” (bum items as mentioned above) and won’t be able to talk to him to get an item afterward. Which means you’ll have to find him AGAIN before you can get another item. This is a real chore that can take hours (it can be very difficult to find Jack, he IS there, but sometimes you’ll literally have to scour every acre before you find him) so only the most persistent players will get the entire Spooky series. Although it’s made harder because Jack can and will give you doubles of the Spooky Items, so make sure you have LOTS of candy. As for me, I managed to get all of them (after manipulating time a few times . . .) EXCEPT the spooky carpet, which I need to finish my room. And can’t get unless I cheat and go back in time to Halloween, or wait until next year . . . because these special items can’t be traded. *cries* Note also that Jack is only available from 6pm on October 31st till 1am on November 1st the next day.

Animal Crossing Franklin the Thankgiving Turkey Character Artwork

Franklin the Turkey
Thanksgiving is the worst day for Franklin the Turkey, who you will find on the fourth Thursday of November (Thanksgiving in the United States) from 3pm till 9pm. During this time, the village will be having their Thanksgiving feast . . . but before the village knows it, Franklin realizes that he’s the main course and ducks for cover! Talk to Franklin and he’ll ask you to steal the silverware from the tables and bring them back to him. Doing so will reassure him that you won’t take a bite of his body, and he will reward you with a piece from the Harvest series of Furniture. If you want to get all the Harvest pieces (which you will, cause all these special items are worth lots of money to trade in or lots of HRA points to use) simply mix and repeat.

Animal Crossing Jingle the Christmas Reindeer Character Artwork

Jingle the Reindeer
On Christmas day, from 8pm on December 24th till 1am December 25th you will find Jingle the Reindeer wandering in one of the acres. Talk to him several times and he will give you a piece of Jingle furniture. But only one . . . UNLESS you change clothes and then talk to him again. Do so and he won’t recognize you. This will allow you to get the entire Jingle Series of Furniture (including wallpaper and carpet).

Animal Crossing Frosty the Snowman Character Artwork

Frosty the Snowman (or just “Snowman”)
Last but not least, the last in the line of holiday-related special characters is the Snowman. Unlike the others, the Snowman starts out as an inanimate object between Christmas and the end of February. During this time, it will snow in the world of Animal Crossing, and you will ocassionally come across balls of snow. You can roll these balls to make them bigger. The key is to find three of them and roll them on top of each other to create a proper snowman (biggest piece on bottom, then smaller two on top). Do so properlly and Frosty will come to life! (Ok his name is just “Snowman” but he is definitely a take on Frosty!). Talk to him and he will give you a piece of the Snowman series of furniture (including wallpaper and carpet). But be careful not to make a disproportionate snowman . . .

The holidays and real-time clock are really what set Animal Crossing apart from all other console games of it’s ilk. Time plays a very important role because not only does the time of day change but everything from what the animals will say and talk about to certain places closing (Tom Nook’s shop), etc. And not only that but the holidays and special characters that visit on special days really make the game special. There is always something to look forward too, whether it’s Gracie and her special clothing, Sahara and her unique carpets or Katrina and her psychic ways. And you will always know when someone is coming by talking to Copper who will keep you updated (if you ask about “Goings-On”) or by checking the town bulletin board frequently.

But it’s the little things that really make this game come together to equal a great package. For example if you don’t save before you quit the game or if you manipulate time by changing the in-game clock (which can mess up some things, so be careful) you will get a visit by Mr. Resetti before you are able to leave your house. This character is one of the funniest in the game. He will chew you out for resetting the game and will literally talk your ear off as he goes on and on and on, which is an awesome “punishment”. It’s hilarious because the writing is really funny and yet at the same time it’s annoying because he will keep going on and on and take up your time. And you aren’t able to continue until you listen to EVERYTHING he says. Reset enough times and he will force you to spell a word exactly as he says it, while only giving you a few seconds to look at it before you have to type it out. And you literally can’t continue until you get it right. On another occasion he will “fake reset” your game which is one of the coolest moments.

Animal Crossing Mr. Resetti Character Artwork

Another cool addition to detail is how blathers will tell you all about the various creatures that you turn in at the musuem. Complete a dinosaur and he’ll give you info like this: “Mammoth – Pleistocene earth was their home, and they are firmly established in our minds as creatures of the Ice Age. Mammoths ranged in height from 6 feet to 14 feet at the shoulder. The whooly mammoth is their most famous species. The last of the mammoths died out some 10,000 years ago, which coincides with the ascent of man. It is, perhaps, the first animal whose extinction was contributed to by man. Though certainly not the last. Humans can truly be the most thoughtless and callous of creatures when they think only of themselves! Hoo! I say again: HOO! Oh, dear! I wasn’t referring to you personally. No offense intended. Temper, temper! ”

Sadly there is no way to view his information on the creatures again (which seems to be a big oversight if you ask me, what’s the point if you will only hear it once?) but it’s a cool detail nonetheless. And notice all the humor packed into even that single paragraph? This game is FULL of it and you’ll laugh and chuckle to yourself constantly while playing, whether it’s from the funny animations, the witty dialogue or the way all the animals say a little catchphrase at the end of their sentences.

Everything just comes together to make Animal Crossing one of the most charming and addictive experiences in gaming. The collection factor is a reason to keep on going (VERY few people will actually complete the game 100% or even max out any one of the collections) and there is so much to collect that you will be playing for a long, long time. Additionally, even the short term goals such as upgrading your house will take you a while to complete. Especially if you don’t know the tricks of the trade, such as selling Turnips that you can only buy on Sunday morning to insane prices (easily the most efficient way to rack in lots of dough) or that fossils are worth bundles of cash. And even the little things such as planting other types of fruit that isn’t from your town in the ground (note that you can only bury something with the shovel equipped) so that a fruit tree will grow, for long term financial success.

And then there are the NES games, which are not only fun to play, but there are enough of them that you may want to purchase the game simply to have an easy way to access a load of classic Nintendo-developed titles, from Excitebike to Balloon Fight.

All in all, Animal Crossing was one of Nintendo’s most original titles for the GameCube, and even today the game is still a joy to play. And the NES exclusive unlockables ensure that this is one Animal Crossing game that can never be outbeaten, even if it lacks many of the features of the newest game, Animal Crossing: City Folk. Either way you slice it, Animal Crossing ranks up there as one of the best Nintendo GameCube games.

Animal Crossing Character Artwork Banner

Animal Crossing is a fun game, no matter how simple or trivial the activity at hand. Whether it’s shaking fruit from trees, talking to Animals, selling items for Bells or taking part in an event, Animal Crossing does it all with charm and grace via witty dialogue that’s extremely well written and, best of all, laugh-out-loud funny, cute and charming. Much like The Sims, Animal Crossing is a game that looks boring on the surface (and probably to people watching), but if you are the type who likes to collect things or just have fun in the moment, then Animal Crossing will keep you occupied FOREVER (literally). The game changes from day to day so there is something to discover every year, no matter what year you are playing in. And only the most dedicated of players will manage to get everything and truly complete the game, and that’s after they’ve spent 100 hours wrapped up in the world of animals. However, if you have played the later Animal Crossing games, Wild World and now, City Folk, then there is little to no reason to go back . . . except, of course, if you want to unlock a bunch of simple NES games, which is really the PRIME reason to get into the original Animal Crossing. At least, in the opinion of this reviewer, having all the NES games to look forward to unlocking was the main selling point, and the main reason to keep trucking. Overall, a fantastic and highly addictive game. Although you can choose to play for only an hour (or less), it’s much more likely that you’ll spend several hours (or more) once you actually sit down to play it. And that speaks volumes.

Graphics: 8.0
Although very simple, both artistically and technically, Animal Crossing has one thing that can’t be outlooked, charm. Charm up the wazoo. If you are purposefully going for an understated, simplistic looking style (and it’s true that this game was originally made for N64), then Animal Crossing is just about the best of the best. And the effects used for the emotions the animals show are genius and really add so much spice to the game that you won’t even care how the game looks. It’ll still draw you in.

Music and Sound: 8.0
As with the graphics, the music and sound is something that seems shallow and simplistic on the surface, but the more you get into the game the better it is. From the way the animals say each letter to the fact that the town tune changes every hour to the over 50 K.K. Slider songs you can unlock (each of which features an absolutely AWESOME vocalized rendition by K.K. when he plays it) add up to make the music and sound in Animal Crossing great.

Ingenuity: 8.0
Animal Crossing was an incredibly unique game for it’s time. Even now, it plays like a totally unique hybrid of Harvest Moon and The Sims. And although it may not seem original to cross the two, it turns out to be original due to how unique the game is. It truly is like nothing else out there, which is why it’s almost impossible to classify the game. If that’s not ingenuity, I don’t know what is. The sum is indeed great than it’s parts, but when you add it all up, Animal Crossing is one heck of a unique, if not innovative, product.

Replay Value: 10
Something new everyday. Need I say more? This is a game that you can literally play everyday of every year, and yet still miss out on something. Ingenious, simply ingenious.

Published on December 8th, 2008 under , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Naruto: The Broken Bond review video


The Broken Bond for Xbox 360This sequel to Naruto: Rise of a Ninja features Naruto, who has now evolved into a well-respected Ninja, but his new status and abilities trigger the envy of his best friend and Ninja teammate, Sasuke. The enemy of the village, Orochimaru, takes advantage of the situation and convinces Sasuke to leave his friends and his village in order to join his evil clan and become more powerful. With the help of his Ninja friends, Naruto goes on a quest to retrieve Sasuke and save him. Naruto: The Broken Bond is also the only Naruto video game, other than Rise of a Ninja, that features an online multiplayer mode which allows players to compete against others in an online tournament mode.

With friends like these, who needs anime? Find out more in this Naruto: The Broken Bond video review.

Game features include:
* Play as a respected and heroic ninja: Enjoy being a hero and benefit from the newly acquired status gained from saving the village.
* Discover the importance of teamwork: An all-new feature to the series, use the abilities of your ninja teammates to overcome bigger obstacles and join forces in tag battles. Players can now team-up with multiple characters from the Naruto universe when in combat and throughout their heroic adventure.
* Explore rich open environments: Following the attack of the Sound and Sand ninja, participate in the reconstruction of the Hidden Leaf Village: enjoy its depth from a new perspective, adding a new level of detail never reached before in a Naruto game. Outside of the village, discover remote locations and enjoy making your journey through vibrant and imaginatively detailed settings.
* Witness and be a part of the series’ most epic battles: Engage in battle with some of the fiercest characters from the Naruto Universe, and use new techniques and jutsu to defeat your enemies.
* Take your teamwork skills online: With the only Naruto game to feature online multiplayer, you can now choose among 25 characters and play alongside friends and defeat other teams online via Xbox LIVE. Take your skills a step further and compete in online tournament mode.
* Live in an authentic Naruto world: Relive the best moments of the anime, adventure through the open village of Konoha, and enjoy voice-acting and music from the original series.

To quote the IGN video review: “Much of Broken Bond improves on Rise of a Ninja, but there are a few areas that seem worse. In particular, the lack of innovation in mission design hurts, as you will be sent on numerous fetch quests. It doesn’t help that the forest looks pretty much the same no matter how differently each area has its traps set up. Aside from some bad quests, The Broken Bond is a great game. I’m not a huge Naruto fan, but I couldn’t help but be drawn in by the story. And the end set of missions — which can take well over an hour to complete — are thrilling. A fun online brawler is just more reason to keep playing Broken Bond after you’ve beaten the main mode.”

Presentation — 8.0
Graphics — 8.5
Sound — 8.0
Gameplay — 8.0
Lasting Appeal — 8.0
Overall — 8.3

Published on November 30th, 2008 under , , , , , , , , , ,

Shaun White Snowboarding review video


Shaun White Snowboarding for PS3Developed in close collaboration with Shaun White, Olympic Gold Medalist and eight-time X Games Gold Medalist, Shaun White Snowboarding allows players to enter a world of total freedom, where they can create their own experience and choose how, where, and with whom they want to ride.

Bomb down open-world mountain ranges in hot spots across the globe and seek out real-life friend in fully-integrated online runs.

Can everyone’s favorite ginger athlete penetrate the virtual action sports market? Find out in this Shaun White Snowboarding video review.

Game features include:
* Open World Mountains: Choose how you ride in open-world mountains across the world. Conquer extreme peak conditions, create your own paths in the back country, or compete with fellow riders in the terrain parks
* Your Friends Are Always Around: Play in a world where your friends are always around. Do your own runs on mountains populated by real gamers, or join your friends for a quick session from any mountain
* More than Just Snowboarding: Have fun with your friends on and off the board! Throw snowballs, hike to access secret spots, film your friends doing ripping tricks. You can also upload your videos online to share with the world
* Ride Your Way: Express yourself through tricks, riding styles, and highly customizable avatars – both in single-player and in the online world. Use the intuitive dual analog control to pull off a huge variety of tricks that express your style
* Next-Gen Technology: Built on the Assassin’s Creed engine, this game creates a massive world with gorgeous visuals and realistic NPC interactions. This is also the first time a snowboarding game is completely driven by physics instead of animation
* Authentic Snowboarding: Ubisoft has worked closely with Shaun White to infuse the gaming experience with authenticity, personality and humor. Shaun is a friend and mentor in the game, and will help you with your skills. And, if you are deemed worthy, you may even be able to play as Shaun in the game.

To quote the GT video review: “Shaun White Snowboarding could definitely benefit from some more polish and it’s fairly derivative, but its open-ended design and subdued trick system capture the feel of the real sport. Snowboarders will appreciate the ability to play the game how they want, but it’s low on flash, so weekend warriors should buy a three-day lift pass for a test run.”

Design — 7.8
Gameplay — 8.3
Presentation — 7.0
Overall — 7.9

In the Wii version titled Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip you can hit the slopes with the Wii Balance Board. Get yourself into the game like never before by using the Balance Board to control your rider. Control your jumps and tricks with the intuitiveness and fun of having a snowboard in your own living room.

A great example of how to handle the Wii version of a multi-platform game. Find out more in this Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip (Wii) video review.

Published on November 30th, 2008 under , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Valkyria Chronicles review video (PS3)


Valkyria Chronicles for PS3Valkyria Chronicles combines strategy elements of conventional tactical role playing games with real-time action sequences. The game is set in a fictitious continent reminiscent of 1930s, Europe divided in two and ruled by the Empire and the Federation. The Empire has set its sights on invading a small neutral country called Gallia, which is situated in the middle of the two great empires. The game follows a hero named Welkin and his fellow soldiers of the Federation’s 7th Platoon that are fighting against the Empire, who is intent on unifying the continent under its power.

Built upon the new “CANVAS” engine, Valkyria Chronicles’ ground-breaking 3D graphics resemble a watercolor painting in motion. Gameplay is centered around a new type of tactical battle concept. Known as “BLiTZ,” this battle concept gives players unique freedom to strategically move around the environment and attack enemies using real-time controls.

Aside from its looks, what makes this strategy RPG stand out? Find out in this Valkyria Chronicles video review.

Game features include:
* CANVAS graphics engine: Cutting-edge graphics engine producing breathtaking artwork fully leveraging the capabilities of the Playstation3. Creates images that look like watercolor paintings in motion.
* BLITZ tactical battle system: Experience strategic maneuvering of units as in conventional RPG gameplay; add the excitement of action games with real-time controls to command each player.
* Epic storyline: Players will immerse themselves in the epic struggle for freedom, as the fate of the world lies in the hands of Welkin and members of the 7th platoon.
* Customization: Over 100 customizable characters allow players to create a variety of platoons to suit each battle’s needs.
* Beautifully rendered battlefields: Players explore 30 different environments, using each terrain to gain advantage in battle.

To quote the GT video review: “From the opening sequence to the final credits, the visuals in Valkyria Chronicles never disappoint. Utilizing a unique cel-shading technique to create a wonderful watercolor, sketch book effect, there’s no other game that looks like it. The cutscenes feature both CG and in-engine work, but the difference is so minuscule that the style’s never compromised. It’s impressive, but not flawless, as the ragdoll physics are a bit overdone.

Comic book text appears to punctuate some of the authentic sound effects, and there’s wall-to-wall voice acting that really nails the script. Sega’s even included the Japanese dub. The score sets the tone, with several compositions standing out as some of the finer in the medium. If you’re looking for an RPG that strays off the beaten path, go buy Valkyria Chronicles. From the gameplay to the visuals, it’s one of a kind. It has appeal for both strategy heads and role-players who find high fantasy to be low on their interest scale.”

Story — 8.7
Design — 9.1
Gameplay — 9.0
Presentation — 9.4
Overall — 9.1

Published on November 30th, 2008 under , , , , , , , , , , ,

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King review video


Wrath of the Lich King for PCPlayers last visited Northrend in “Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne,” when Arthas Menethil fused with the spirit of Ner’zhul to become the Lich King, one of the most powerful beings in the Warcraft universe. He now broods atop the Frozen Throne deep in Icecrown Citadel, clutching the rune blade Frostmourne and marshaling the undead armies of the Scourge. In World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, the forces of the Alliance and the Horde venture into battle against the Scourge amid Northrend’s howling winds and fields of jagged ice. Wrath of the Lich King adds a rich variety of content to an already massive game.

Blizzard is back with more war. Find out what else is new in this World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King video review.

New features in the game’s second expansion include:
* Death Knight Hero Class: Create a high-level Death Knight character — the game’s first hero class — once certain challenges have been met.
* Increased Level Cap: Advance to level 80 and gain potent new talents and abilities along the way.
* Northrend: Explore the harsh new continent of Northrend, packed with new zones, quests, dungeons, monsters, and items — and do battle with the undead armies of the Lich King.
* “Inscription” Profession: Learn this exciting new profession and gain unique ways to permanently enhance spells and abilities in the game.
* Siege Weapons and Destructible Buildings: Take the battle to another level with new player-vs.-player game mechanics and new battlefields to wage war on.
* New Character Customization: Change how characters look and express themselves, with different hairstyles and dance animations.

To quote the IGN video review: “With Wrath of the Lich King, World of Warcraft’s play style has been tweaked to be more accessible, addictive, and deeper. Any longtime player is sure to be pleased with what Blizzard’s done here since it gives the higher level population a wealth of new content for play as well as improves the overall look of the world. And let’s be honest, if you’re going to spend hundreds of hours in a virtual space, it helps if it’s pretty. It’s an MMO system that works, as the game’s success underlines, but you’ve got to ask yourself after four years how long this kind of momentumcan last. Perhaps within the next two years, or by the time the next World of Warcraft expansion is released, there’ll be a clearer answer.

As for now, Blizzard is more than content to build on World of Warcraft’s formula, improving and refining nearly every aspect of the game, delivering new quest systems, a better and more focused narrative, loads of new goals to chase by yourself or with friends, and made acclimating to its world’s complexities a process generally free of the headaches of something like CCP’s EVE Online. Those who’ve yet to jump in should absolutely do so; it’s hard to imagine anyone being disappointed with such a well-run, polished product that offers so many reward strata and diverse styles of gameplay.”

Presentation — 9.0
Graphics — 8.5
Sound — 8.5
Gameplay — 9.0
Lasting Appeal — 9.0
Overall — 9.0

Chrono Trigger DS review video


Chrono Trigger for DSWhen a newly developed teleportation device malfunctions at the Millennial Fair, young Crono must travel through time to rescue his misfortunate companion from an intricate web of past and present perils. The swashbuckling adventure that ensues soon unveils an evil force set to destroy the world, triggering Crono’s race against time to change the course of history and bring about a brighter future.

Features an engaging and unparalleled storyline, leading to the discovery of multiple epic conclusions to a journey that transcends time. An inspiring musical score created by Yasunori Mitsuda. Intriguing battle system made possible by the unique combination of the Active Time Battle system and Tech skills. Famed character designer Akira Toriyama lends his signature art style to create the vibrant world that has captivated gamers around the world.

Taking advantage of the Nintendo DS hardware, Chrono Trigger DS makes its way onto the portable platform with all-new dual screen presentation and Touch-Screen functionality. A brand new dungeon and a Wireless Play mode adds exciting new dimensions to this timeless classic.

“Good morning, Crono!” Watch this Chrono Trigger DS video review.

To quote the IGN video review: “There’s a reoccurring theme in Chrono Trigger DS, and it’s an important one for a game this historical. The game is virtually unchanged in its core, having a new script re-write, but retaining the visuals, music, character designs, interface styles, and options of the source material. At the same time, Square Enix also ensures that this is the definitive version of Chrono Trigger out there, as the game comes complete with every option you could ever want for touch vs. button control, two or single screen display, or game pacing and difficulty. Where things should have been left the same, they were. Where fixes or additions could be made, they have. Yes it’s a $40 game for a title many of us have played until our thumbs were sore, and it’s unchanged in a lot of ways from what you played back in 1995 or in 2001, but it’s also just as captivating, imaginative, or well made now as it was then. I could write volumes on this game, but it isn’t needed. If you’ve never played Chrono Trigger before, buy this game. If you’re a die-hard fan and want to support one of the greatest games of all time, buy this game. If you’re having trouble validating a $40 purchase for what is ultimately the same game, it’s the wrong choice for you, and your cash is better spent elsewhere. Any way you slice it though, Chrono Trigger is one of the greatest RPGs of all time, and it’s a game everyone – whether on DS, PSX, Super NES, or in the future – should play.”

Presentation — 8.5
Graphics — 8.5
Sound — 9.5
Gameplay — 9.0
Lasting Appeal — 8.5
Overall — 8.8

Published on November 28th, 2008 under , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Last Remnant review video (Xbox 360)


The Last Remnant for Xbox 360In ancient times, mysterious artifacts referred to as Remnants were discovered all over the world. People used these objects for their awesome powers — a choice that eventually began to cause a rift in the world’s balance. Equality was replaced by those who ruled and those who were ruled over. War was inevitable. A thousand years later is when this story begins in The Last Remnant

Rush lives with his sister Irina on secluded Eulam Island, far from the power struggles for Remnants that are occurring back on the mainland. However, this peaceful life is shattered when his sister is suddenly kidnapped by a mysterious group of soldiers right before his eyes. He immediately sets off after them, unaware of the evils of the outside world but determined to find his sister at any cost.

Does this original Square-Enix project live up to expectations or is it destined to become a remnant? Find out in this The Last Remnant video review.

Game features include:
* Experience groundbreaking graphics, only possible on next-generation platforms, that bring the intensity of gameplay to an entirely new level.
* Uncover the mystery of the Remnants, powerful artifacts from an ancient civilization that are scattered around the world and stand as they were a millennia ago.
* Navigate a massive battlefield while surrounded by countless foes and friends.
* Immerse in exhilarating, large-scale battles through a never-before-seen battle command system.

To quote the GT video review: “The Last Remnant has a lot of depth, a nicely balanced risk/reward system, and presents a mean challenge. It’s not a good starter RPG, but genre fans will feel rewarded.

Last Remnant is a beautiful game with a curse. Gorgeous environments, detailed character designs, battle animations that make you feel the impact of every hit, and detailed enemy design all suffer from inconsistent engine performance and glitchy textures. Things get choppy regularly, and it’s an issue you’ll have to figure out if you can deal with it. At least the stutters don’t adversely affect the turn-based gameplay. Textures pop in and out constantly, and after a load it can take a couple seconds before the details emerge. It’s distracting. There’s no doubt about it.”

Sound — 8.2
Design — 8.7
Gameplay — 8.5
Presentation — 7.0
Overall — 8.0

Published on November 27th, 2008 under , , , , , , , , , ,

Sonic Unleashed review video


Sonic Unleashed for WiiEveryone’s favorite hedgehog breaks new ground yet maintains his roots in a game that combines amazing next gen capabilities with classic Sonic 2D gameplay! Developed by renowned studio Sonic Team, Sonic Unleashed utilizes the powerful “Hedgehog Engine” to mesh seamless 3D and classic 2D camera transitions, whilst delivering a rich and expansive world with multiple paths to choose from.

Having been broken apart by the evil Dr Eggman, it’s down to Sonic to put the pieces of the world back together again by retrieving the power of the chaos emeralds. In doing so, Sonic will find himself in a race against time and faced with an unusual situation that will challenge him in ways never before seen. By completing a wide variety of action-packed stages, spanning the seven broken continents of the world, gamers will need to unleash Sonic’s amazing abilities to save the world, and himself!

Has Sega unleashed a monster or a masterpiece? Find out in this Sonic Unleashed video review.

Game features include:
* Sonic can engage in different ways during the day and night time levels, bringing a completely original way of playing the beloved series.
* In addition to running at high speeds in classic Sonic style, combat fighting will become possible.
* Super quick Sonic’s speed skills is highlighted by four new modes, whilst the all new combat, movement and functional abilities offer depth and variety to the game.

To quote the GT video review: “Sonic Unleashed takes two steps forward with some of the best speed levels in recent memory, and one step back by tacking on yet another failed experiment with the Werehog. Perhaps some day Sega will release a game that is 100 percent blue hedgehog, but this is another case of having to suffer through the bad to get to the good.”

Story — 6.5
Design — 7.1
Gameplay — 6.9
Presentation — 7.5
Overall — 7.0

Published on November 27th, 2008 under , , , , , , , , ,

Angry Video Game Nerd reviews Zelda: Wand of Gamelon on CD-i (part 2)


Wand of Gamelon on CD-iThis is number fifty-eight in a series of bad video game reviews by the Angry Video Game Nerd. Watch as in this second part of the CD-i series the Angry Nerd reviews Zelda: Wand of Gamelon (1993). A game Animation Magic made after Philips got permission to use Nintendo licensed characters in CD-i games. Look for the remaining horrible Zelda CD-i games in the next video installment.

Oh no, not Zelda! Even Link couldn’t save her from this disaster. Comedic yet coarse language ahead.

Enemy boss: “You’ve killed me!”
Zelda: “GOOD!”

Tomb Raider Underworld review video


Tomb Raider Underworld for Xbox 360For generations, stories have been told of the fearsome weapon of Thor, the Norse god of thunder. Legend holds that Thor’s hammer had the power to smash mountains into valleys and to destroy even the gods. For more than a thousand years it has existed only as a myth… until now.

In an ancient ruin on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea, Lara Croft uncovers proof of the Norse underworld and the mythical hammer. In Tomb Raider Underworld she attempts to unravel the secrets behind these myths, Lara’s perilous journey leads her toward a forgotten power that, if unleashed, could lay waste to all civilization.

Does Lara’s latest adventure break out of Legend’s shadow? Find out in this Tomb Raider Underworld video review.

Game features include:
* Master your surroundings: Reach new heights with the broadest range of acrobatic abilities and utilize objects within the environment to uncover new paths to explore
* Explore epic and unknown worlds: Discover ancient mysteries of the underworld hidden within the coast of Thailand, frozen islands of the Arctic Sea, the jungles of Mexico, and more
* Treacherous and unpredictable challenges: Each level is an elaborate multi-stage puzzle masked within an interactive environmental playground offering more flexibility over how the area is solved.
* New range of combat options: Choose to pacify or kill, target multiple enemies at once with the new dual-target system, and shoot with one hand while suspended with the other
* New state-of-the-art gear: Utilize the latest technology in Lara’s upgraded inventory to navigate the world
* Active Sonar map: A revolutionary new tool that emits an active sonar ping to create a 3D image of Lara’s surroundings, perfect for uncovering hidden items and locations
* Multi-purpose grapple: A claw-like device with a high-tension cable designed for climbing, rappelling, performing wall runs and manipulating objects within the environment
* All-terrain hybrid motorbike: A unique vehicle design built to drive on everything from mud to snow and ice

To quote the IGN video review: “Tomb Raider Underworld is a good game that Lara Croft fans will enjoy, but it’s not quite the experience that will live up to or even surpass that of Legend. It’s a shame, really, because there was a large amount of promise, particularly with the “What Could Lara Do?” system, which highlighted good controls for the game, more realistic animations and exploration for Lara, and slightly improved combat. Unfortunately, the game was held back by “What The Technology Couldn’t,” leaving Underworld firmly in Tomb Raider: Legend’s shadow. Only the upcoming downloadable content and achievement points make the 360 version stand out just ahead of the PS3 copy.”

Presentation — 7.5
Graphics — 8.0
Sound — 8.5
Gameplay — 7.5
Lasting Appeal — 7.0
Overall — 7.5

Published on November 22nd, 2008 under , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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