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Mario Hoops 3 on 3 DS Review

Mario Hoops is hard to review. Nintendo and Square-Enix put so much production and money into the game, that it is very distracting when trying to review the game on its own merits. This game screams big-budget! It's the equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie...only it's a video game on Nintendo DS. When I first picked up Mario Hoops, played through the tutorial, and started playing I was blown away by the graphics, presentation and even the unique gameplay. It is very impressive in the first couple hours, but as I went on to the second tournament and then the third, I realized that this was the most ridiculously easy game I had ever played. I just lost my first match yesterday and am now being challenged in the Hard Mode Star the 7th tournament. It has made the game a little more interesting and a little more annoying. The controls, which I had no problems with in the early easy part of the game when I was just dunking nonstop on my competitors, have become problematic. I have tried passing several times to a player on a fast break and have instead jumped up for a mid-court jump-shot...very frustrating. At the same time, I like the increased defense of the computer controlled players. It should be noted that this is not a basketball game...well not really. Though you shoot, slamdunk and dribble, the game is basically a scramble to ? blocks to rack up coins before you attempt to score and put these coins in your bank. It doesn't feel like a basketball game because the strategy is not about protecting the hoop, since letting a character dunk on you only nets 20 pts., but instead about chasing aroudn ? blocks for items and to prevent the offensive player from collecting coins to add to his potential basket (20 pt. dunk + 100 coins = 120 pts!). It's different, and while I was playing the super easy tournaments I was yearning for the ability to have my brother and friends join in for some multiplayer, which I am sure would be a ton of fun. No Nintendo wifi connection! It's a glaring issue and I can't believe that the developers didn't offer this feature. They poor salts in our wounds too, since you don't have any hoops download play only lame mini-games. They really should've delayed the game to include wifi online play like they did for Metroid Prime would have added a lot of value and fun to the game. That pretty much sums up the game...while fun and amazingly well produced, Mario Hoops lack the extra shine and features that would've made it really great and would've forgiven it for its control and other small gameplay issues. With only local multiplayer and a limited 1player experience, this game's flaws become less forgivable and more frustrating.

Gameplay: 7/10
Pros: Unique take on basketball, the control and placement of dribbling the ball is really cool, multiplayer would be a blast
Cons: The control for passing/shooting can be frustrating, the first 5 tournaments are ludicrously easy

Graphics: 10/10
Pros: Best 3D graphics on DS hands down
Cons: ?

Sound: 9/10
Pros: Clear quality voicework, amazing sounds, catchy theme song
Cons: Each charater only says a couple things and it can get very repetitive

Lasting Appeal: 5/10
Pros: Mini-games included, multiple tournaments, multiplayer game is fun
Cons: Limited multiplayer support, mini-games are lame, single player is too easy and the only incentive to keep playing is becuase you want to unlock new characters and can't play with a friend or online

Average: 77.5%
Tilt (+/-): - 7.5% I
t is just inexcusable that some of the features weren't included in this game, it only makes it worse that the game has such high production values. All the more reason to take the time and spend the money.

Verdict: 70%

Gnade Games will now be called Graduate Games

The website overhaul is finished...or should be relatively finished now. Please leave comments or email me if there are any links or dead-ends or any problems with the new website. I think the new website has a much more professional and better overall look. The other thing that I should mention is that Gnade Games is now officially Graduate Games. Though some references to Gnade Games will still exist (for instance this blog), our actual company name is going to change since now that my friend Zak is on board it is just more inclusive and less pretentious to not have my name in the name of the company. Just keep that in mind and be aware that Gnade Games is synonomous with Graduate Games and hopefully by the time the first Graduate Games title comes out all this naming nonsense will be behind us. September is coming to a close and Meteor Mayhem will be featured in GameTunnel's September Roundup. This upcoming review is actually what sparked the whole website overhaul since I was never really happy with the website and it was just sort of a temporary fix until I finished up Meteor Mayhem and had time to get it really looking the way I wanted it to. Of course, then I sort of got pre-occupied with the new having the deadline of September was good. That's all for now. I will soon be reviewing Mario Hoops for DS since I went on sort of a DS spending spree and got these 3 new games. Cheers

Starfox Command DS REVIEW

So I've been playing Star Fox command for the past couple days and was actually pleasantly surprised. My favorite thing about the game has to be the difficulty (not in the flying and shooting, but in the strategy) and the multiple path type of gameplay. Let me elaborate. Each starfox mission usually encompasses either taking out a mothership, destroying a particular type of enemy, or shooting down a cruise missile. The controls are excellent for flying around and shooting down badguys, and I have only died a couple times in the heat of battle or failed the mission by running out of time. On the other hand, I have allowed enemy ships, and cruise missiles to destroy my flagship on many occasions. There's actually a lot of strategy involved in placing your ships and intercepting threats. At the same time you have to stay aggressive and go after the motherships to earn more turns (and thus leaving your flagship undefended). I actually found one of the first missions the hardest because while I was destroying every enemy I faced, the training mode does not describe any of the elements of the strategic map, so I lost a lot. You also start with only Fox McCloud and then meet up with your buddies. Luckily, flying around and moving my plane around was so much fun I just kept replaying it and eventually learned how it works. Basicaly, there's fog of war clouds that you can rub away with your stylus (only so many though) and then you draw paths for your plans to fly. Once you get into it the strategy elements are really cool, work well, and keep the difficulty of the game up. The graphics and actual missions are spot on StarFox 64 and give you little 3d arenas to fly around and shoot it out. In-game controls are excellent and each spaceship is actually a little different with weapons, lock-on abilities, etc. (I hate Slippy's ship! No Lock ON!). After the first mission you can choose which teammember to go after and the game splits into 3 paths and after every subsequent misison you have at least 2 different areas/missions to choose from. This gives the game excellent replay value! There is also online support and local multiplayer modes which are exactly like the old N64 free for alls. I've never been a very big StarFox fan, though I did really like the 1st one, but the depth the strategy elements have given the game make it totally my cup of tea.

Gameplay: 8/10
Pros: Controls are excellent and fluid, drawing paths and planning out attack patterns is a unique new feature, the old N64 dogfights return, different ships handle differently, EXCELLENT boss battles. Great Multiplayer dogfights.

Cons: The actual missions can get repetitive: destroy this enemy, chase missile, destroy mothership. Training missions don't adequately prepare you for new strategic elements. No true SNES on-rails missions.

Graphics: 8/10
Pros: Arwing ships all look different (there's even a tadpole type ship to play as), solid 3D engine that looks better than the original SNES starfox and almost as good as the N64 version.

Cons: Levels are small, and draw-distance could be farther. Some of the old N64 fog is used and actual terrain and levels aren't that varied.

Sound: 8/10
Pros: Sticks to the starfox theme music previously established. They also use this fun garbled voice when people talk (like the old SNES cart).
Cons: No spoken voice, which people may frown on.

Lasting Appeal: 9/10
Pros: Multiple paths in one player, many ways to enjoy multiplayer, decent difficulty without being frustrating, and a decent and engaging story.

Cons: Gameplay may not keep you coming back for the 3rd, or 4th time through the campaign mode. Missions can be repetitive.

Average: 82.5%
Tilt (+/-): +0.5%

Verdict: 83%

Website Overhaul

Sorry for the inconvenience, but our website is currently being completely overhauled and redesigned. Currently, all traffic is being directed to this blog. The good news is that you can still buy Meteor Mayhem from the links on the right or if you wish to use you can go to the store and search: Meteor Mayhem and buy from there as well. Hopefully the new website will be up and running soon. In the meantime, more DS reviews are coming on: Mario Hoops 3 vs. 3 and Starfox Command.

Megaman ZX DS Review

So here's a rambling review, that I did at work instead of doing....well work. So I just bought the black DS lite yesterday and Megaman ZX to go along with it. Now let me start off by saying that ZX is hard and the save system is bad and it sometimes takes awhile to get to the right mission (the map is horrible). That pretty much sums up the entirety of the negatives of this game. I could not put this game down. Granted I was a huge SNES Megaman X fan and have liked hard games such as PS2 Shinobi, so some of the negatives of the game do not bother me at all. The Gameplay is absolutely perfert! It is oldschool goodness to its best, Twitch addictive gameplay. The ability to change into 5 different megamen is also really cool. You can even turn into your human self (though I wish the Human had more abilities, he can just crouch into small spaces and doesn't scare people when he talks to them). The Graphics are sweet in my opinion and look really good, though I doubt they are really straining the DS hardware. The bosses are tough and everything is slickly animated. In fact, one of the megamen can shoot with either hand and the way you are facing accurately changes which hand animation-wise fires- very nice touch. There are 2 characters- guy and girl and although I am only past the first 7 or so bosses on Easy, I definitely have not found it overly difficult (though I have died) and look forward to replaying the game as the girl and on harder settings. Love this game. If you loved any of the X games you have to absolutely pick this one up. Currently, Metascore has this game at 80. I would says it is more of a 89-91. It sucks that there isn't a decent map on the bottom screen (or even in the menu) but I like not having to look at both screens all that much. Anyway, you can read the other reviews and complaints yourselves. I think most critiques are valid but are not that big of a deal. I'm pro difficulty, the save system is fine, but the map system - walking around finding where the missions are- definitely needs a huge improvement.

Gameplay: 10/10
Pros: Absolutely couldn't put this game down for the first 5 hours. I'm even itching to play it again now, but I'm at work and the DS is at home so I'll have to wait. The only reason I stopped is because I only have 1 mission left available to select and I don't know where section J is! Excellent control very responsive, classic megaman with 5 different versions!
Cons: Some may find it hard or just not like the Old School and difficult gameplay - NOT for CASUAL GAMERS!!

Graphics: 9/10
Pros: Crisp and excellently animated sprites. Great Anime Sequences! Lush backgrounds with excellent scrolling aspects (foreground and parallax backgrounds). In the vein of great SNES games like Super Metroid, but crisper! with more colors!
Cons: Nothing that is truly next-gen...minimal graphics on 2nd Screen

Sound/Music: 8/10
Pros: All the classic sounds of dashing, shooting, etc. return. Music is good and fits the mood of the game.
Cons: When you complete a mission there is an annoying beeping until you file a mission report. Music/Sound doesn't really stay with you.

Lasting Appeal: 8/10
Pros: 2 Different characters, drastically more difficult difficulty levels, 5 different Megamen with different play mechanics. Huge world - lots of levels to explore. Only $30! SICK gameplay!

Cons: Too difficult- Too hard to explore and find next area or mission. Gameplay is tough for newcomers to Megaman games. Extra playtime attributed to re-traversing areas to find the next area or get back to a save point.

Average: 87.5%
Tilt (+/-): +2.5%

Verdict: 90%

Development Quick Update

The new and much grander game is in development and continuing to move along nicely. The overworld, freeform map and galaxy is actually almost done after many arduous hours. We still need to put in capital ship battles and maybe a couple graphical tweaks, but for just being a map to get from one planet/level to another- it is very fun. You can even start a war between the two opposing factions. Once Graphics and Animations start coming in for the platform/exploration part of the game, programming will begin on the actual game engine. While we are waiting on that, we've been working on the backstory, descriptions, and bios of the characters, galaxy, factions etc. Currently, the menu system and information database is being constructed so people who are interested can learn more about the world and story. Meteor Mayhem should be featured in reviews on gametunnel and bytten soon. Nothing much else to report. Cheers-