Friday, October 22, 2010

Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii) Review

The world must be ending some time soon. I'm back with two reviews in one week. The apocalypse must be a few days away. Regardless, while we fearfully await our last moments, let's check out something bright and cheery. Why, it's Kirby, of course, and he's got a brand-new game for us on the Wii. Let's see how it shapes up.

At least he doesn't suck anymore,
because he literally can't in this game.

Nintendo's unloaded several of their most popular franchises. There's been Mario, Zelda, Metroid, and upcoming Donkey Kong. We've yet to see the lovable, hug-able, pink puff of cuteness, Kirby, on the Wii as of yet. Nintendo's opted to change that with Kirby's Epic Yarn a complete reversal of the tenative 3D model project that was planned before. Out with the 3D and in with a unique artstyle made completely of yarn and fabric. Does Kirby's Epic Yarn's gameplay match up to the wonderful art of the game?

Kirby is always a hungry fellow. When he sees a magic tomato sitting precariously atop a bush, Kirby does what he does best, suck it up. This angers a nearby onlooker, a magician named Yin-Yarn that absorbs our hungry hero into a mysterious sock of sorts. It is then that Kirby is vacuumed into a world that is completely 2D and made up of yarn and fabric. Here he meets a troubled prince being tormented by one of Yin-Yarn's goons. The prince is named Prince Fluff, and Kirby rescues his new friend by somehow transforming into a car and jetting off with a quick and helpful escape. It turns out the tomato Kirby inhaled in one gulp was a magical one, giving our hero the ability to transform into many helpful objects and forms. Prince Fluff tells Kirby that the world he is in-- Patch Land-- is split apart in seven sections. Only by beating the boss of each area will a golden thread link two pieces together. With a goal in mind and a ever-hungry hero, Kirby and Fluff march off to right the wrongs of one evil and sinister Yin-Yarn.

Kirby and Waddle Dee-- fiercest of foes.

Kirby's Epic Yarn progresses just like the original Kirby outing, Dream Land. At the end of each stage you earn a patch that opens up a new level to try out. This process continues until you reach a boss which you battle for a piece of golden yarn, vital to Kirby and Fluff's quest. Doing particularly well in a boss encounter gives the heroic pair a patch to unlock a secret level or levels in that area to try out. These are usually more challenging in scope with greater dangers and more enemies to contend with.

Speaking of challenge, Kirby can't lose a life. It is completely impossible for Kirby to die. This might make the game easy, but you're encouraged not to take damage as the medals you collect will rain out of Kirby as he gets hit with limited time to scoop them back up. Collect enough medals and you'll be rewarded either a gold, silver, or bronze medal pending on how many medals you've kept safe from harm. Another part of the challenge is when you get new tenants in a Patch Land apartment complex. These guests will ask Kirby to perform a specific task depending on who you talk to. One plays hide-and-seek with Kirby, another races Kirby to a set goal, another has you carrying the tenant to the goal, and another has you collecting a given amount of beads or defeating enough enemies within a strict time limit. These challenges are the most... well, challenging aspects of Kirby's Epic Yarn. It takes a lot of time to reach 100% in this game-- more than twelve hours easily. Add in the fact that at any time in the game, you can play co-op, and you have twice the fun for the same price.

Kirby is far more flexible than he's been in previous games of the series. This is thanks to that tomato he naively consumed. Kirby can transform into a myriad of objects and vehicles from a weight to crush enemies beneath him to a parachute that slowly floats our hero to the ground. Special transformations include a water-loving dolphin, an enemy-gobbling UFO, a fire truck to put out fires and volcanoes easily with, a spaceship whose gameplay is reminiscent of Galaga or Defender, a side-scrolling shmup game. All of these abilities make up for the fact that Kirby can no longer eat and take the powers of a given enemy. Instead, Kirby uses a yarn whip to take care of enemies, hang and swing from objects, and pull zippers wide open (and we're not talking about pant zippers either, you cheeky monkey).

A sub is one of many forms Kirby can become.

Each world concludes with a massive boss battle. These aren't too challenging though figuring out how to acquire enough medals from a boss may be a bit perplexing. Each boss has its own attack patterns to look out for. Then they leave themselves open for Kirby to grab onto its weak point, pull for all he's worth, and damage the boss. There's seven boss battles in all, and each one is as entertaining as the last even if there's no difficulty in not dying.

Fire back its talons to take care of this boss.

Kirby's Epic Yarn is a presentation package that other games wish they could become. Sure, I doubt Gears of War would want such a package, but you get what I mean, right? The entire world is made up beautiful yarn enemies, objects, and fabric-covered platforms. This is without a doubt one of the most graphically-pleasing games available this year. Yep, I go as far to say that, and you can quote me on that. The soundtrack is composed well usually featuring a piano to play the melody or accompaniment. It's what you expect from the composer who wrote the incredible Wario Land: Shake It! soundtrack plus a trio of composers who are Kirby veterans. Overall, the entire package is wonderfully impressive unless you're not man enough for it.

This beanstalk is a vertical stage.

Overall, Kirby's Epic Yarn is a great game that some might consider to easy to their liking as deaths are a thing of Kirby's past. However, if you play the game with the goal to collect as many medals as possible, then you're in for one heck of a ride. Kirby has never been as cute as he is now, and his adventure is one that will hook you from beginning to end. And if this game's magnificent charm doesn't appeal to you, then suck it up, because we all know Kirby can't in this game.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.5/10]

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Central City Census - November

We've skipped a few months for the Census, but now it's back but not better than ever. I'd be lying if I said that. Let's take a look at July's results before we get into November's Census.

Which side of the world has the better game developers?

The East
26 (44%)
The West
21 (36%)
11 (18%)

Votes so far: 58

Last July I asked you which side of the world had the best game developers. Surprising to me, most of you went with the East. Maybe there's some hope for you guys yet, eh? Regardless, only five votes separated the East from the West, so it's hardly conclusive evidence. Eleven of you showed cowardice by being undecided. Man up and vote for god's sake. Let's get onto November's Census coming eleven days early.

The holiday season is almost upon us. Do you think you'll be receiving a new console or platform this season? Short and straight to the point, yes?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wii Party (Wii) Review

It's a been awhile since I've posted a review on SuperPhillip Central, and it's for good reason. As you know I've been preoccupied with other things as well as lack of interest in gaming. Don't call this a comeback is my general thought on this. That said, it's time to have a party-- a Wii Party, that is!

We're Having A Party

If there's one genre that the Wii has seen enough of it's the party game genre. You have your Raving Rabbids, Mario Parties, board game party games, and those are just the notable ones. We're not even counting shovelware which plagues the system's library. Nintendo along with developer ND Cube (made up of some of the Mario Party series staff) are throwing their collective cap into the ring with Wii Party. Is this party a rip-roaring good time, or is this as much fun as a 21+ year old party without a kegger?

Right away you can tell that Wii Party does not skimp on features. There's over fifteen different modes to tackle either solo, against or with another player, 1 vs 3, or with four players. The first main mode to be discussed is Board Game Island. This mode is essentially your traditional Mario Party board where the goal is to get to the top of the island first with a roll of the die or dice in most cases. At the start of each round (rounds are defined by all four players taking one turn per round) with a minigame. The player that comes in first place is rewarded with two dice-- both of which count up to the number six. Second place gets a silver die as a bonus to their regular die with the numbers 1 to 3 on it, and third place gets a bronze bonus die with numbers 1 to 2 on it. Last place gets no bonus die. Along the way you'll be blocked by various obstacles where the goal is to roll a number equal or higher to the specified number or else your progress is impeded. There's a boatload of unique spaces to land on from moving a player up a select amount of spaces to conversely losing ground with an unlucky roll. This mode is one of my favorites even if there's only one board to choose from unlike Mario Party.

Winning first place in a minigame awards a gold die.

Then there's Globe Trot where the goal is to venture around a bright blue globe stopping at various attractions along the way for souvenirs. These souvenirs are like power stars in Mario Party. At the start of each round a minigame is played to determine player order as well as who wins coins for their performance in the minigame. These coins are used to purchase said souvenirs as well as helpful cards from shops to move up to eight spaces. Instead of rolling a die, Globe Trot has players selecting one of five cards to move about. Once ten rounds has expired, it's time for overtime where the player to get the next souvenir hot spot wins two souvenirs for the price of one. Globe Trot has its pluses, but I didn't enjoy this mode as much as the others.

Swap Meet is all about Miis. The goal is to play a minigame to determine player order (a custom you should expect by now), and get two rows of matching colored-outfits Miis in a 2x3 row. Players literally swap out Miis from their collection of six in order to match two rows. Each time a 2x3 is made, the next set commences. You can tinker the amount of sets played to three or five. Bonus points are awarded for having platinum Miis in your lineup and especially if you get three platinum shirt colored Miis in a row. This mode challenges you to think about your opponents' next moves as you try to sabotage their chances of selecting the right Miis.

Spin-Off might remind you of Wheel of Fortune in a sense as you spin a gigantic wheel covered with spaces such as lose medals, win medals, add medals to the bank, and minigame spaces to name a quadruplet. The idea behind Spin-Off is to land on the minigame spaces in order to duke it out for the medals inside the bank. With 2X and 3X multipliers the bank can get quite big in a hurry. Watch out though as landing on a 1/2 space will halve all of your hard-earned medals. I particularly like this mode as it doesn't take too long to play-- maybe less than a half-hour, and it's always a race to see who can land on a minigame space and know that it all comes down to one game to determine whether you're a champ or chump.

Finally in the main modes, there's Bingo. Players start off by selecting a 4x4 bingo sheet full of faces of their Miis. A giant sphere twists and turns letting out one bingo ball. If that Mii is on your card, you check it off. The premise here is to get four in a row either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. Occasionally, a minigame ball will pop up. The winner of this will get to choose any Mii on their card to mark off. Out of all the modes, Bingo takes the least amount of time with fifteen minutes max to play.

And with that Mii, a Bingo was born.

Off the beaten path, there's pair games involving two players to work together to achieve a common goal. Friend Connection is the gimmick-iest of the pair games. You and your partner answer silly questions about one another and the other player tries to guess your answers. That's only half of the equation as you also play a pair minigame in order to see your friend rating. It's a great way of figuring out how good of friends you are with someone... not. There's also Balance Boat where each round you play a pair minigame. If you win, the Miis you have to set on a boat and hope it doesn't tilt over will be equal in weight. Fail, and one of the Miis will be bulkier than the other. It takes a calm hand and mind in order to achieve victory and not witness a shipwreck. A word to the wise, playing with the CPU on this game is an effort in frustration as the AI does not understand the concept of teamwork. Finally, there's Match-Up where several Miis are dressed up with question marks for shirts. The goal is a lot like those old Memory games for toddlers where you select two Miis of the same color to score a point.

This is the opposite of what you want to do in Balance Boat.

If the presiding games are too conventional for you, then you can always try the gimmicky House Party games. The first game is called Animal Tracker where the goal is to pick up the Wii remote that matches the sound of the animal on the screen. Hide 'n Hunt has one player hiding the Wii remote in a room. The only hint the players have is an intermittent chiming of the Wii remote. Lastly, there's Time Bomb where the goal is to carefully pass the Wii remote back and forth between players or else the bomb will go off in an unfortunate Mii's hand. There's two other modes, but they're not much to look at in all honesty.

The bread and butter of all party games are the minigames included, and Wii Party is packed with them. Thankfully, only three of the eighty-plus purely involve luck while the others are all about skill. One game you'll be reminded of Whack-A-Mole as you hammer down moles of different colors (brown and gold) for points. You'll speed around and battle in the cosmos as you wear superhero outfits. You'll waggle the Wii remote in order to slice and dice a carrot as fast as possible. Those are just the four player games. There's also solo, pair, and 1 vs. 3 minigames to tackle as well. One game has you using teamwork to get through a puzzle-filled temple to reach the goal while another will have players stepping on buttons to help one another pass across a sky-high maze. The 1 vs. 3 games have one player trying to sling a beach ball at opponents to knock them from a beam overlooking the warm water. Each game offers a different control scheme. Sometimes you'll be tilting the Wii remote to drive while others you'll be pointing at the screen to grab objects or mess with a players field of vision. The games are simple enough to learn but tough to master which makes it all the fun to complete them.

Rescue as many Miis as possible to win this game.

Wii Party isn't the prettiest game on the system. Textures aren't terrific, visuals aren't too impressive, but the game chugs at a steady framerate no matter what goes on. It still isn't old seeing your Mii inside one of Nintendo's worlds. Meanwhile on the sound scape of things, the music is appropriately lively and catchy, and the sound effects are on par with other games in the genre. Note: about average. Your host doesn't actually speak unless gibberish is your way of speech. Overall, the presentation package isn't half bad.

This sky-high maze challenge requires strict teamwork to defeat.

While there isn't too much to unlock in Wii Party, this is a game best played with friends rather than solo. Although the computer doesn't cheat as much as in the Mario Party franchise which is a sigh of relief from this reviewer. Get a good group of friends and enjoy this party game as it's a mighty fine one. Before you'll see everything this get-together has to offer, you'll probably still be playing into the wee hours. Wii Party gets a solid recommendation and a admirable score to match.

[SuperPhillip Says: 7.75/10]