It’s nice to see you again, Dr Kawashima. This must be the first time I’ve ever been excited to see a doctor. Brain Training is back, the game that elevated Nintendo DS into the stratosphere outside traditional gaming. This “non-game” took off as a great way to use the touch screen and features of the DS and 3DS systems, but how does it hold up on a home console hybrid? It’s a little different. I picked up the new Switch version today and thought I’d write about the experience.
Do do DOOT DO DOO DO doot dodo. What is this ear piercing atrocity? It’s the glorious sound of an entire Zoo trying to squeeze out of your compressed phone speaker. Zoo Keeper has been around for a little while and saw moderate success on the Nintendo DS over a decade ago when the system launched. Since then there was a 3DS title that only released in Japan, and a phone game (iOS and Android) that has been quietly gaining momentum for the last 6 years. I recently downloaded Zoo Keeper Battle on my phone and was surprised to see 2 million people in the rankings. After losing some games I then realised there’s more than 3 million ranks… how low can I go? Anyway, this game is free and perhaps even better than the original DS game, with significantly more events and customisation.
Shadow Dragon is a remake of the very first Fire Emblem game and I’ve just played through it on the Virtual Console. That’s right, from the NES, to the DS, to the Wii U, this game has had a journey of its own. Being the first time one of the earlier Fire Emblem games has been released in English, this game presents classic gameplay with the original story of Marth and the kingdom of Altea. It has quite a simplistic gameplay-first approach without many bells and whistles, but the gameplay is very good and I absolutely fell in love with the design of the game.
I’ve been a naughty boy. Four long days, I have kept Dr Kawashima waiting, his game left unplayed on my Wii U. I tried to put him out of my mind and enjoy Xenoblade X, but his handsome face remained on the startup screen. His icon throbbing, yet welcoming. I couldn’t resist. I had to touch his face and boot up the game, just to feel that warmth I was missing. Nothing else could replace it. I expected a scolding for my absence, but he played it off with a cheerful razzing. He always does this, puts on an act. He’s trying his best to be strong and rational. However, behind that jolly facade I could feel the coldness in his eyes. The tears from those lonely nights had left his soul dry and empty. He needed me. He was seething on the inside, but his response was calculated. I didn’t know what to say.
WAHOOOO!! With a well-timed jump over an Octorok spike trap, Phantom Hourglass has landed on the Wii U Virtual Console in Europe and Australia. Unfortunately it has not made its way to America yet, but I’m sure the fog will lift soon. There’s a lot of baddies out on the ocean so you have to plot a course carefully. Let’s get to the point, a DS game on Wii U, what is this madness? Linebeck hid in the corner, he was scared of this new experience. How do two screens work on the TV? Is it functional? Could it be amazing? I’ve just completed the game and yes, it’s pretty fucken playable. I had an absolute blast with the ship’s cannon, ahahahaha. Linebeck told me that joke I swear. The game is pretty good too. This writeup is going to explain how DS games play on Wii U, and why Phantom Hourglass itself is special.
2004, Nintendo is struggling with the GameCube and losing the support of third parties. Game Boy Advance is doing well but the future is in doubt as the threat of a competent Sony handheld looms. After a kiddy Zelda game (that will never get a remake) gamers were desperately clinging to the hope of a proper “realistic” Zelda. A poor marketing campaign for Super Mario Sunshine didn’t help matters, where are the traditional Mario games? The future of the system was dependent on instant megaton announcements that didn’t happen, and Resident Evil 4 which was no longer an exclusive game. E3 2004 changed everything, with the introduction of a new system and a new attitude.
Nintendo DS was unveiled and Reggie’s confidence and the promise of a new Metroid title brought excitement to the terminally-hip crowd. However, as the dust settled, sites began taking the mickey out of Nintendo and this was the predicted downfall of the company as the unstoppable Sony showed off their new handheld, the PSP. Comparisons were inevitable and many people thought Sony would carry PS2’s success into the handheld arena. Here’s an article from IGN from just before DS and PSP launched, very clearly stating their mindset. It’s the best article I could find because they are trying to be open-minded, but it’s almost eerie how wrong they were. Here’s some quotes that highlight the apathy of DS’s unveiling.
So, while browsing the barren wasteland that is the DS’ upcoming release schedule, I stumbled upon Puzzle Overload – a collection of 1001 various logic puzzles. Clearly enough to warrant a mental breakdown. “Wow,” I didn’t proclaim, quickly averting my eyes to the next game on th-waaait a second! Telegames! Telegames’ logo was on the box. The Telegames.
Telegames honestly fascinates me, and not just because they survived their eyebrow-raising attraction to both the Atari Jaguar and Lynx (responsible for bringing over a handful of big name titles such as Double Dragon and Worms along with all their original work). After framing their award for “only third party publisher who gave a shit,” Telegames would then go on to dominate the PlayStation and Game Boy Advance with games such as uh, Santa Claus Saves the Earth. They have managed to barely exist like this since the ColecoVision and 2600 days.
Casual, hardcore, non-gamer, casual-gamer. What do all these mean? What language am I speaking? If you’ve read any “insightful” feature articles on videogames in the past 5 years, you’ll know these terms pretty well. Let’s start with where these popular phrases originated, and how these words became “categories”.