Category Archives: Wii

#79: Little King’s Story

Format: Wii Genre: RPG Released: 2009 Developer: Cing/Town Factory

Little King’s Story was a very pleasant surprise. Having read some positive reviews before buying it, I knew it was going to be good, but I was amazed at just how good it would turn out to be.

The first thing you need to know about Little King’s Story is that it’s definitely not ‘little’ – by the time I’d finished it I’d racked up over 40 hours of gameplay, and there were still side quests I hadn’t done. To be fair, you could probably finish the main game a lot more quickly than that, but there are so many interesting distractions along the way, you’d be doing the game a disservice to ignore them. I mean, how can you pass up the opportunity to beat a cow at table tennis?

Anyway, I was initially drawn to Little King’s Story by the similarities it shares with Pikmin, one of my favourite GameCube games and one that has – perhaps surprisingly – rarely been imitated. Superficially, the games are very similar in that you command a group of followers who you can fling in front of you to fight enemies, break rocks, carry items and generally do useful stuff. However, whereas Pikmin only gave you three types of follower to choose from, Little King’s Story has around 20, all with different abilities. As such the game is a lot more complicated, and coming up with the right balance for your team – particularly during boss battles – can be quite tricky.

Speaking of boss battles, the bosses in this game have to be some of the most inspired I’ve ever seen, ranging from a drunken layabout king who you have to knock from atop his pile of beer crates (see screenshot below) to ‘King TV Dinah’, a part man, part TV broadcaster who fights across various telly programmes, from westerns to sci-fi. My favourite though was a boss who hides inside a giant egg and challenges you to answer questions about the things you’ve seen so far in the game – get a question wrong and he releases hordes of cockerels to attack you. Natch.

The game is far from perfect of course, and in fact some parts are downright frustrating. In particular, there’s a section in the middle where the game gives you little direction on where to go or what to do, and you end up grinding through dozens of repetitive side quests in the hope of upgrading your weedy followers. Plus there are some utterly ridiculous difficulty spikes – the mountain level is a particular offender in this category, where suddenly you’re introduced to enemies and hazards that can kill half your followers in an instant. Who on earth thought that would be ‘fun’?

But despite its shortcomings, Little King’s Story was an absolute delight to play, chiefly because of the sheer imagination and charm oozing out of its every pore. In years to come, people will hail this game as a cult classic, and the fact that it failed to trouble the charts will only add to its rarity – buy it now before it starts changing hands on eBay for 50 quid a pop.

Lewis

(Screenshots from destructoid.com)

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Filed under 2009, Cing, RPG, Town Factory, Wii

#51: Super Mario Galaxy

Format: Wii Genre: Platform Released: 2007 Developer: Nintendo

Yep, it’s Mario again, making his triumphal third appearance on 101 Video Games (after cropping up in Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario Kart). I’m a big fan of the Mario games (who isn’t?), and Super Mario Galaxy is, in my opinion, the finest Mario game ever made.

There was a lot riding on the Wii incarnation of Mario – many people felt Nintendo had dropped the ball somewhat with Super Mario Sunshine on the GameCube, so Galaxy was Nintendo’s chance to restore Mario’s reputation. The trouble with Sunshine was that it didn’t really feel like a Mario game – partly because of the holiday location and partly because of the unnecessary introduction of the FLUDD backpack. It was telling that the most enjoyable levels in Sunshine were those which disposed of the backpack entirely and relied instead on good-old-fashioned, Mario 64-style platforming. So what would Nintendo come up with for Galaxy? More innovations? Or the return to old-school platforming that the fans craved?

Well, a bit of both actually. The actual platforming in Galaxy goes right back to Mario 64 for its inspiration – the triple jump, long jump and ground pound are all present and correct, and the whole feel is much more reminiscent of the game’s noble N64 forebear than its slightly awkward GameCube cousin. However, although the basic platforming mechanic is the same, in all other areas the game is totally chock-full of new and innovative ideas, and it’s such a big leap forward for the series that it makes you wonder where on earth Nintendo will be able to take Mario next.

One of my favourite gaming moments of all time is the first level of Mario Galaxy. Circling around the tiny planetoids and firing yourself into space with the star cannons is brilliant fun – it put a big ol’ grin on my face that pretty much stayed there for the entire time I played the game (and for sometime afterwards, too). And the fantastic ideas just keep coming – levels where the gravity keeps reversing, a galaxy made out of children’s toys, a bumblebee suit that lets you fly… there’s more imagination in one level of Mario Galaxy than in most entire games.

Of course, there are one or two minor niggles. The ‘rabbit catching’ section right at the very beginning is a little irritating – and surprisingly hard. In fact, when I was showing the game to a friend, I actually had to catch the rabbit for them because they found it too difficult – not a good sign considering Mario is meant to be accessible to everyone. Conversely, quite a large portion of the game is almost too easy; although having said that, some of the last few levels are devilishly difficult (see the article I wrote for Terminal Gamer here).

These are minor gripes though – Super Mario Galaxy is without doubt one of the finest games I’ve ever played, and certainly reason enough to buy a Wii if you haven’t done so already. I hardly ever play through a game again once I’ve finished it, but on completing Galaxy my first instinct was to go right back to the beginning and play it all through again… and it’s even better the second time around.

Some highlights from the game:

The wonderful first level:

Lewis

(Screenshots from www.ign.com.)

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Filed under 2007, Nintendo, Platform, Wii

Podcast 1: The House of the Dead: Overkill (#35)

Format: Wii Genre: Light Gun Game Released: 2009 Developer: Headstrong Games

 

The House of the Dead: Overkill

'Mutherhugger' (taken from http://www.blast-o-rama.com)

 

It’s finally here, the first 101 Video Games That Made My Life Slightly Better podcast! Click play below to hear two very well spoken boys quietly speak in very posh voices about The House of the Dead: Overkill. Be amazed as we get a bit too excited and talk over each other. And be slightly concerned as our mums come up in the conversation.

Enjoy, and don’t be too cruel in the comment section.

Click below to listen directly through this site:

Or download and listen on your MP3 player of choice:

Podcast 1 House of the Dead Overkill

Ian & Lewis

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Filed under 2009, Headstrong Games, Light Gun Game, Podcast, Wii