Nintendo Wii game reviews
(To jump straight to the games list, click here
This page provides very short reviews of games for the
game console. While some people put down the Wii as "crap", it is a
fine piece of equipment, in my opinion. Cheaper than the XBox 360 and
the Playstation 3, the Wii should be considered to be on the lower end
of the game console spectrum, but is nonetheless a capable machine.
(This "lower endedness" is primarily visible via the lower-quality graphics
capabilities of the Wii, compared to the PS3 and XBox360.)
i never considered buying one until i played the boxing game at a friend's
house and immediately fell in love with the Wii. The motion-sensitive
controls work remarkably well and i look forward to seeing what
innovative game developers will do with it.
The worst thing about the Wii's motion-sensitive controls is that reaching
up to scratch (or pick) your nose during play can have an effect
on the game!
General notes about the Wii:
Here are some notable Wii pros and cons (reminder: my own opinions
), in no particular order:
- Relatively inexpensive, compared to the PS3 and XBox360. i paid 250 Euros for mine, whereas
the XBox360 is currently around 400 Euros and the PS3 is roughly 600(!!!) Euros. That said, the
competing devices have noticeably higher-end graphics. (Higher-end sound won't make much difference
on most TVs, like mine.)
- Very small. The unit is only a bit bigger than a CD drive, is designed to sit on its side,
and takes up an otherwise wasted (and small) space next to our VCR.
- It can play GameCube games, which helps make up for my major Wii gripe (lack of content).
- Built-in wireless internet connection (but see below).
- The online shopping capabilities, while still quite immature, allow one to download new
content, such as a large collection of games from legacy consoles (Nintento 64, TurboGrafx, and
several others). The online capabilities will certainly expand as Nintendo figures out what it
wants to (and can) do with these features.
- The motion sensing capabilities work remarkably well. Game designers will certainly
(hopefully!) come up with exciting new ways to use and abuse this.
- The online capability, combined with the "channels" metaphor of the Wii,
allows non-game services to be integrated into the Wii as well as games
(current examples include weather forecasts, news, and a web browser).
- Has built-in parental controls to lock out games which support an age rating. It also
logs how much time is spent in each "channel", meaning that you can see, with minute precision,
how much time you (or your kids) actually spent playing each game on any give day. (If a
child says, "but mom, we only played for 1 hour," this can now be verified by the parent!)
- Relatively little content (games) available. As of this writing (March 2007), the XBox360
and the PS3 both have several times as many games available for them. If the growth of the
Gameboy DS content availability can be used as a measuring stick, it will be mid-2008 or later
before the Wii has a large number (100+) of games available for it. The local electronics/media
stores in Berlin, Germany typically have one or two short rows of Wii or GameCube games yet have
whole isles of XBox content.
- The graphics are not as sharp as the PS3/XBox360, but that is not a major complaint for me.
Real power-gamers will certainly want the higher-end devices.
- The built-in wireless internet connection requires an open wireless DHCP server and does not
support any sort of encryption. That means if you have a wireless home network which uses, e.g.,
WEP encryption, you cannot connect the Wii unless you open up your router to allow all incoming
connections. The only form of "security" is the use of an ESSID.
- The motion sensor requires a small widget which sits either on top of or under the TV screen.
It is non-intrusive but is yet another piece with a wire attached to it.
- While the Wii itself does have internet connection capability, no games to date
(March 2007) have any internet-play capabilities. (Networked play of PGA Golf or Blazing
Angels would be a real blast!) Supposedly (according to one web site i read), Nintendo has
not yet established their game server infrastructure, which seems pretty short-sighted,
considering that the Wii was designed from the ground up for the internet. On the other hand,
this capability gives plenty of room for growth over the next few years, which Nintendo
will of course capitalize on.
- The game controllers use AA batteries. A pair of batteries will last a week or so
of fairly heavy-duty play.
[Wikipedia says 30-60 hours,
depending on the features required by play.]
If the battery runs out while you are playing, this is not a problem -
the game is paused to tell you that the controller is offline. Replace the batteries,
tap a button, and you can continue right where you left off. You can check the battery
status at almost any time by tapping the Home button on any controller.
Here is the list of Wii games i own. Click on one to see my rating (on a scale of 1 to 5) and any comments:
- Battalion Wars 2 (BWii) (rating: 3.75)
- Battle for the Pacific (rating: 1)
- Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII (rating: 3 (but see review text!))
- Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood/Road to Hill 30 (rating: 2.5)
- Call of Duty 3 (rating: 4)
- Call of Duty: World at War (rating: 3.5)
- Far Cry Vengeance (rating: 3.5)
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as Dark Lord (rating: 3.5)
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as King (rating: 3)
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time (rating: 1.5)
- Heatseeker (rating: 3.5)
- Lego Batman (rating: 3.5)
- Lego Indiana Jones: the Original Adventures (rating: 4+)
- Marvel Super Hero Squad (rating: 3)
- Rampage: Total Destruction (rating: 3)
- Resident Evil 4, Wii Edition (rating: 4+)
- Rogue Trooper: Quartz Zone Massacre (rating: 4+)
- Scarface: The World is Yours (rating: 2)
- StarTrek Conquest (rating: 3)
- Splinter Cell: Double Agent (rating: 3.5)
- StarWars: the Force Unleashed (rating: Most Impressive)
- Tetris Party (rating: 4)
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2007 (rating: 4)
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2008 (rating: 4)
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2009 All Play (rating: 4)
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010 All Play (rating: 4)
- Twin Strike: Operation Thunder (rating: 2)
- Spyborgs (rating: 3.5)
- Wii Sports (rating: 3)
- Zelda: Twilight Princess (rating: 4)
As a general guideline, the ratings can be understood to mean:
- 1: Absolute Crap. Unplayable or unenjoyable or both.
- 2: Absolute crap with a redeeming feature or two. Not worth the price of admission.
- 3: Average stuff. May or may not be worth the full price of admission.
- 4: Recommended. Playable and entertaining. Worth the price.
- 5: Much better than expected, or highly recommended for other reasons.
i don't mind paying full price for these games.
Please note, however, that these ratings are my very personal subjective opinions, and some games
would rate higher on other players' scales (Zelda is probably a good example).
To try to put these reviews and ratings in perspective, one must understand
my play style: i am NOT a "power gamer". i play for relaxation
and entertainment. i enjoy looking around the content in a game and moving along
at my own pace
. i like to play through each level once or twice, and
get extremely frustrated if a game is so difficult that it requires you to
fully master each level (via 3+ playings) before continuing to the next. i really
appreciate when a game has multiple difficulty levels, so that i can start
on the simplest and work my way up (or not) as i become more proficient.
As a software developer, i am fairly tolerant of bugs in software, but not
at all tolerant of major bugs in console games because once the ROM ships
the game cannot be fixed. Thus, console games which exhibit more than the most minor
of bugs immediately get added to my shit-list.
Battalion Wars 2 (BWii)
, Rating: 3.75
BWii is a cartoon-style combat game in which the player leads
groups of soldiers into various missions. When i bought it i wasn't
quite sure what to expect, as the screenshots on the box are too
small to make a judgement on. Once it was running, i was pleasantly
surprised. Compared to other Wii titles, this one has remarkably
good graphics (though still low-quality when compared to the
high-end platforms). (The music, however, while of decent quality,
quicky gets repetative.)
The controls are suitably simple, with no outrageously tricky
combinations required. Controlling friendly units is also simple -
toggle to the unit (using the left/right arrows), point at the
target and tap 'A' to perform a context-sensitive action
(capture, attack, etc.). Throughout the game you can control a number
of unit types, from infantry and tanks to various sorts of planes.
During play it is possible to take control of any given unit, so you
can play the one(s) you enjoy the most.
The story is a tad bid weak, and the dialog nearly as so (but not
as weak as that of Heatseaker), but the cuteness of the presentation
makes up for this.
One aspect which quickly gets annoying is how often play is
interrupted by cutscenes. The levels are mostly quite short (par time
is under 10 minutes), which makes the interruptions stick out even
more than they would for longer missions. That said, there's also no
checkpoint feature, meaning that if you fail a mission you must start
from the beginning, making longer missions a nuisance.
BWii is one of the few Wii titles with online support - you can play
both co-op and head-to-head games over the Nintendo gaming network.
This adds a great deal to the replayability factory, but the game
is not enthralling enough to make me want to spend weeks at a time
playing it online.
All in all i am quite happy with the game. It's fun, and the
presentation lends itself well to a light-hearted play style. It is
recommended for any fan of shooter games.
Battle for the Pacific
, Rating: 1
Two great names: Activision and The History Channel. It could have been nice. i gave up before even reaching
the end of the first level. The difficulty level, even on Easy Mode, is absurd. The controls are non-fluid
and inaccurate, aiming seems to only be possible in increments of about 15 degrees, making it damned near impossible to
hit anything at all. Some weapons are aimed using the Wiimote, some with the nunchuk stick, making for a jarring,
unnecessary contrast. If you do attempt to play this game, here's a hint for the first level: if you sit and shoot
the bad guys, and do not advance forward, they will come at you in endless waves. You must move forward while they are
still coming at you in endless waves (and don't expect a break in the waves of more than a few seconds). Yes, your lone,
under-gunned soldier has to charge groups of Japanese soldiers to make any headway in the mission. The jerky aiming controls
make actualy shooting them as you run by next to impossible, so just keep on running, because if you stop to shoot them
then more will take their place. After 5 attempts at getting to the 4th or 5th checkpoint, i turned it off, and probably won't
turn it back on.
Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII
, Rating: 3 (but see review text!)
This WW2 flight sim provides a variety of challenges, from the typical
shooting down of enemy planes to taking recon photos of embedded German
positions in the Sahara during a heavy sandstorm to navigating a meters-wide
tunnel of ice in the Norwegian fjords. While a few of the missions are difficult
enough to require 5+ tries to get through them, i have had so much fun blowing up
things along the way that that has not lowered my enjoyment of this game
(most games which require so many tries get thrown into my do-not-play pile).
The use of the motion-sensitive Nunchuk control to fly the planes is exceedingly
intuitive, making one a master of flight after the short tutorial mission.
(And if you do not like that control, the game offers a suprising number of
different layouts, one of which does not require the Nunchuk at all.)
Most of the missions are quite short, but that is
balanced out by a relatively large number of missions (20 if i am not mistaken,
whereas most mission-oriented games have 12-15 missions).
i have one significant complaint about this game:
- The mission entitled "Top Secret" (level 15, i think) is annoying enough to
make me want to throw this game in the trash can. Completing it took me more
than 30 attempts at getting past the first checkpoint. After that, i was severly
depressed to find that the level has two more checkpoints which are just as bad
as the first one, requiring one to navigate, at top speed, extremely narrow
fjords with very unforgiving time limits. Even if you fly as fast as you can, which takes
a lot of practice (and luck) to do without smashing against the walls of the fjord, you
will probably reach the checkpoint with only 2-4 seconds to spare. While the whole
level only lasts about 10-12 minutes, it took me somewhere between 2 and 3 hours
to get through it because the fjord-flying parts are so insane. Levels like this
are why i detest the "cannot continue until unlocking this level" approach to
A couple of non-campaign
game modes allows you to hone your flight skills and improve your planes' capabilities
(and there are lots of planes available). The game makes good use of wingmen characters,
who accompany the player on most flights, where each wingman has an ability which can be
called upon by the player when needed.
Probably the only thing which would have made the game notably better (aside from
completely removing the "Top Secret" mission) is finer
graphic detail, e.g. on the massive warships. This being the Wii, though, that
probably wasn't possible. If the above-mentioned "Top Secret" mission hadn't wasted so
much of my time (and hadn't raised my blood pressure by several points), i would have
rated this game at 3.5 or even 4.
Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood/Road to Hill 30
, Rating: 2.5
Earned in Blood and Road to Hill 30 are two separate games but come bundled
in a two-pack called "Double Time". i love WW2-era games, and the Wii controls are
a good fit for this style of game. That said, i don't care for the Brothers in Arms
series at all (i've also played them on the PC and the Sony PSP, and didn't care for them
there, either, for the same reason i'll name in a moment). They are actually well done, with
fair graphics and engaging gameplay, but a bit heavy on the cutscenes (the first 3 missions of
Road to Hill 30 feel like 2/3rd cutscene and 1/3rd play). My problem with this whole franchise
of games is that they're so frigging difficult. IMO, on "Beginner" difficulty i should be able
to walk through the battlefield at my own pace and come out with only a few scratches. Instead,
i've gotta fight like hell for each meter of advancement and
my squad what to do at the same time (the difficulty selection dialog claims that in Beginner you don't need
to use the tactical features of the game to win, but this simply isn't true). If these games
had a better sense of difficulty level (i.e. Beginner was truly easy and Veteran was truly hard),
i would have a lot more fun playing them. As it is, i don't have the patience to play through more than
the first 3 levels at the Beginner setting.
Call of Duty 3
, Rating: 4
Beautiful! This shooter is really nicely done. My only major complaint
is that my controller always freaks out during the last couple minutes
of the very last level, requiring me to try it 4 or 5 times before
getting through. Also, some of the motion controls don't work quite as
well as the game designers certainly intended (mainly the "pulling the pin"
motion needed when setting explosive charges, which often takes 8 or 10
tries before it actually works. Also, the melee combat motions are a real
pain in the ass.).
Aside from that i had nothing but fun playing this. The graphics are
lovely and the sound is nice, but the developers REALLY SHOULD
added a way to skip the cut-scenes, because some are quite long and
you are forced to watch them between chapters or when playing
individual chapters (which are unlocked as you defeat them in campaign
mode). This long wait severely reduces the replay value because
you cannot simply jump into an arbitrary game chapter/mission on a
moment's notice. In all cases you'll have to wait through 1-3 minutes of
cut scenes before you can start shooting. You can't even pause the game
during most cut scenes, which means if someone knocks on your door
or telephones while you're waiting, your character will probably be killed
when the level starts and you are off answering the door or telephone
(yes, this has happened to me).
Call of Duty: World at War
, Rating: 3.5
Fast and fluid, the designers of this game took the good aspects of Call of Duty 3
and mixed it with one of the worst from the Brothers in Arms series: it's very
difficult (i think i died five times on the first level, on the easiest difficulty setting).
They largely make up for this by providing checkpoints at very generous intervals
for most levels (for others the intervals are way too far apart, requiring many
repeated attempts for certain levels). Unlike Call of Duty 3, the cutscenes can be skipped,
vastly increasing the reply value over the CoD3.
Cons include: except for the last 2 or 3, the missions have absolutely nothing to do
with one another, making the whole experience seem a bit disjointed. The voice content,
at least on the German edition of this game, is too low to hear 95% of the time. Even when
turning up the TV to more than twice normal volume levels, the voices are almost inaudible.
With the background explosions and such, it is impossible to hear the commander's orders
telling you what the next target is.
Pros include: fast, fluid action. Most levels have checkpoints every few feet (and they need them,
because even on Rookie level you'll get killed often).
Far Cry Vengeance
, Rating: 3.5
This game got some poor reviews on the internet, but most of those
came from long-time Far Cry franchise fans who were comparing it to
Far Cry games from other platforms and bitched about the graphics
not being up to par. My only complaints with this product are
relatively minor, such as its save support - it saves at nearly arbitrary
points, and some of those are while bad guys are shooting at you or even
right as you are dying from falling off of a mountain. The levels in this
game are huge
, causing the Wii to read the CD a great deal (the
only thing annoying about that is the constant drive-read sound coming from
the device). One level in particular is buggy, in that it allows you to
perform some actions in the wrong order, and if you do this then the whole
level is botched and cannot be completed without completely restarting it
(but it does not tell you this - you simply cannot access the necessary
exit point and you will have to google around to find out why).
That said, all in all this is a really enjoyable shooter game.
It makes good use (but not over-use) of the motion controls, and is the
first game i have seen where to jump you actually have to make a jumping
motion with your controller (makes sense, right?).
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as Dark Lord
, Rating: 3.5
This WiiWare title is a spin-off of My Life as King
(see below), but it approaches the problem from the other direction: you
play the role of Dark Lord, defending your castle from an onslaught
of adventurers. It is not a clone of My Life as King, but is a whole
different game. Dark Lord is largely a real-time-strategy, but any time you
take an action or make a choice the game pauses, so much of the hectic
of RTS games is (thankfully!) gone. It's also part puzzle game - how best
to deploy your monsters to deal with the abilities of the incoming
adventurers (this very important to winning). All in all the game is very well done. Like My Life as King,
it's visually nice and has nice audio, but is also quite repetative. However,
it also moves at a much different pace than its predecessor, and holds its charm
a bit longer (IMO). It's played in stages (each battleground a different stage),
and stages can be replayed as often as one likes (and, in typical Square Enix style,
be replayed several times in order to accumulate enough points to improve your army).
The ability to re-play any stage allows you to practice your tactics and experiment with
different setups. Like My Life as King, you can purchase add-on content which provides certain
bonuses like new monsters and improved statistics, and i can imagine that the
game is much more difficult without these bonuses.
All in all, My Life as Dark Lord is well done. Even with the repetativeness,
it's got at least 5-10 hours of play time in it, which makes it overall significantly
cheaper than going to a movie (even if you buy the add-on content).
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as King
, Rating: 3
This is my first "WiiWare" title. WiiWare titles are downloadable
from the Wii store, directly downloaded to the Wii instead of loaded
via a disk. While the price was a bit high (at 1500 Wii points, or 15
Euros), i decided to try it out because i have, in general, been
impressed with other titles by this publisher (Square Enix). MLK is
basically the same as other Final Fantasy titles... except that the
role of the player is reversed
. Instead of playing a party of adventurers, you play
the king who sends adventurers out on quests. While they're out
hacking and slaying, you stay home and build up your kingdom (as
represented by a small city, enclosed in the grounds of a castle). As
the player, you will never experience any of the fighting. Your job is
administrative in nature. You keep the city growing (building new buildings), keep
the people happy (e.g. by talking to them as they walk around the streets). MLK can be expanded (e.g. with new
races and building types) by purchasing new content online, available
via an in-game menu. Purchasing new content requires Wii points, which
can be purchased (with real-world money) via the online Wii store. The
value of the add-ons varies - some are simply cosmetic (new costumes
for your avatars) and some add new places for your adventurers to
explore (not that you'll ever see those places - you send the
adventurers there and they do the dirty work).
There's really a lot to say about this game, but this page is about
reviews. Final Fantasy fans will probably enjoy
it. Hard-core city-simulation fans probably won't - this game isn't
anywhere nearly as detailed as such sims, and simply can't satisfy
people addicted to that level of detail. It is, for me, quite repetative
but also mildly addictive (on the same scale as most other games in this franchise),
and will certainly get one or two complete play-throughs
before i tire of it. My hope is that the game will eventually be
expanded (significantly, though also incrementally) via the content download
features. That is not at all a far-fetched notion - the question is simply
whether it's worth it (financially) for Nintendo and Square Enix to do
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time
, Rating: 1.5
i should have known better - i didn't at all like
the DS version of this game
. The Wii
version is even more disappointing. First off, the DS/Wii versions are designed to be played together.
But they cannot be used together, it turns out, without the Nintendo USB LAN device, which only works
with MS Windows operating systems (which i do not use - i've been an exclusive Linux user since the
20th century). The game's box downright lies on this point
, saying a WLAN router or
Wi-Fi USB Connector is required.
The fact that the game is a DS crossover should have been the first hint that something would be
amiss, because such games must meet at a lowest common demoninator when it comes to features.
And boy, did Square Enix find the lowest
common demoninator. Like the DS version,
the UI is split-screen, but side-by-side instead of one atop the
other (of the three screenshots on the box, only one is shown split-screen - yet another deception alongside
the WLAN claim). It's impossible, even on my 110cm (46-inch) TV screen, to read most of the text without zooming in one side
of the screen (which is easy to do but horribly annoying to have to do). The graphics are 100% the
same as the DS version - imagine hooking up your DS to a projector, and that's what it looks like,
flickering screen and all. When it finally comes time to get your first mission, you are
told to find a Buffasaur "somewhere near water", but no amount of wandering around the one place on
the map with water reveals a Buffasaur. So, just like on the DS version, i'm stuck some half-hour
into the game trying to find a Buffasaur. Trying to pass the time by taking on optional quests leads to even more
disappointment. The quests are not quests in the conventional sense, but are mini-games, most of
which would appear to be poorly thought-out or poorly executed (e.g. carrying buckets of water
to put out fires would seem to be reasonable, except that it's about impossible to aim the buckets such that
they actually land on the flames: see an example of this
in this video
All of the quests i've tried so far have time limits, and TIME LIMITS
JUST PISS ME OFF
. When creatures drop treasures, you've got to manually pick each of them
up. This is because in multi-player mode it's the only fair way to handle pick-ups, but in single-player
mode it's just downright annoying (especially since monsters wait about 2 seconds after they fall before
the treasures pop out, and bosses drop 10-15 pieces, each of which has to be approached and picked up
individually). Not only is it annoying, but if other members of your party are nearby (which they almost
always are) you end up picking up a party member half of the time, rather than the item.
i finally found the Buffasaur (by googling for it), and was sorry i did. While lurking around the dungeon
i found that the controls are even more poorly thought out that it initially seemed. The (C) button has 3
distinct uses (casting magic, calling party members, and diving underwater), and it regularly took three
attempts to get the use i was trying for. The other party members do not pick up items, even to heal themselves,
and one is forced to continually switch characters just to heal them or restore mana points. Using the default
controls, if your Wiimote pointer is not in the 1/3rd of the screen where the action is taking place,
then it does not register attacks at all (this can be changed, but not without reseting the game).
Apropos attacks, instead of mapping the Trigger button (B) to attacks, they map the (A) button to attack,
and the Trigger to jump, which is exactly the opposite of intuition and just feels fundamentally wrong.
And while trying
to explore the dungeon, the camera often works against you, placing dungeon fences
and such between the camera and the PC, making tracking the PC nearly impossible at times.
The publishers of this game get several big, fat F*** YOUs
for this release.
Though this game uses the same engine as
FF Ring of Fates
, this one is
somehow much worse, probably because it's implemented on a console many times more powerful than the DS, and
should be correspondingly better. i'm exceedingly disappointed
in Square Enix for puting this on the
market and robbing me of 40 Euros.
, Rating: 3.5
This flight sim is more action-packed than Blazing Angels, but with
a much less compelling story. It offers some pretty exciting shoot-em-up
flying using a wide variety of planes. Unfortunately its only play mode is
Campaign mode, but the missions can be played in arbitrary order once they
are unlocked by playing through them. Winning the missions can unlock different
bonuses, depending on which difficulty level is used (out of 3 possible levels).
The flight controls are
much different than those of Blazing Angels, but are no less effective (and
arguably more effective).
Unfortunately, however, there is practically no in-game tutorial information,
so you have to figure out how to do important things, like changing missile types,
by trial and error or Reading The Fine Manual. As an interesting marketing gimmick,
if you register your copy of the game you get 3 "free" cheat codes to unlock certain content.
Additionally, you can buy cheat codes online, for about 5 Euro, to unlock all the levels,
planes, weapons, etc. The cheat codes are calculated based on your Wii's unique ID,
and thus are unique for every player, meaning that codes you buy are useless
for a friend of yours who also has the game.
, Rating: 3.5
Yet another installment in the wildly successful Lego game series, this one covers
our long-time favourites Batman and Robin. It adds some new gimmicks to the line
of Lego tricks, but is otherwise essentially the same game as Lega Indiana Jones
(see below) with different characters and much darker graphics (they're sometimes
hard to see on a CRT TV screen). If it was more original (and a bit less dark,
which gets difficult on my old eyes), i would rate it a 4, but in my eyes it doesn't
really differentiate itself from the other Lego games all that much.
Lego Indiana Jones: the Original Adventures
, Rating: 4+
Impressed with [all but one
of the] previous Lego-themed titles for
the Nintendo DS, Gamecube, and Wii, i had to try this one out.
Players of the previous Lego titles will be right at home - there's a
lot of familiar territory here. There are also several new gimmicks,
including new ways to build (or repair) things and new types of
interactivity. The game includes an absolute boatload of unlockable
characters (including some from Lego StarWars, including (of course)
Han Solo) and other unlockables, and cheat codes are available for the
impatient or frustrated players out there (google for them!).
The level graphics are remarkably detailed, the characters are fun,
and a second player may join in at any time. Since it's all
light-hearted fun, it makes for a good distraction while discussing
other things with your play-mate (e.g. "Honey, how are we going to
make the - Pick up that blue stud! -
house payment this month? I spent
our rent money on Lego Indiana Jones.").
Marvel Super Hero Squad
, Rating: 3
Like Spyborgs, my local GameStop had this game on sale for 10 Euros, so i picked it up without
too much hesitation. Anyone who's played any of the LEGO family of console games, like
LEGO StarWars, Indiana Jones, or Batman, will recognize the style. The superhero characters, all
of which will be familiar to males between the ages of 5 and 45, look almost Lego-like, and
i suspect that designers of the game were going for a LEGO feel without infringing on (or having to
license) the LEGO label. MSHS gives the player two heroes per level, whom he can freely switch
between while he romps around a 3D/isometric-like environment mashing up bad guys and certain
elements of the environment. The game has multiple difficulty levels, nice graphics, and allows
two players to play in co-op mode. In effect, it's largely the same gameplay style as the various
LEGO games except that the levels are not littered with puzzles and the characters are more varied
in their abilities. Anyone who enjoyed any of the Lego games will almost certainly enjoy this one.
HOWEVER... note that some of the levels have elements are extremely
non-intuitive in regards to how to solve/perform them. Players will almost
certainly have to google to figure out how to properly interact with some
of the "puzzles". If it weren't for this aspect, and all of the time i wasted trying to get
Hulk to throw a damned rock at the right spot, i would have rated this game higher.
Rampage: Total Destruction
, Rating: 3
A classic from the 1980's arcade era is back in beautiful form. The
monsters look almost claymation-like, which i find entertaining.
Unfortunately, starting at the third level ("London") it gets
pretty difficult. As a redeeming feature, though, each
level (city) is quite large, and destroying Las Vegas and
San Francisco have not yet become boring.
It is great for stress reduction. It has over 30 monsters
(most of which must be unlocked through play), but they
aren't fundamentally different from each other, differing
mainly in their collections of powers (which must be unlocked
through play). As an added bonus, the 1980's arcade game is
also included. (After playing the classic version for a couple
minutes you will probably think "wow... we used to spend 25 cents
per game to play this crap?")
Resident Evil 4, Wii Edition
, Rating: 4+
Despite the fact that i've never played a game in the Resident Evil
series, and didn't consider the films to be terribly interesting, i've
been waiting on the release of this game. It has gotten several
excellent reviews at various gaming sites, and it is easy to see why.
The graphics are excellent, at least by Wii standards. This game
easily has the best overall graphics of any Wii game i've played
to-date. Despite the large levels, unlike
, it does not suffer from the
"terrain at the far edge of your vision distractingly just seems to pop
into existence" syndrome. The graphics are fluid and highly detailed, with
only a few small glitches here and there. This goes a long way to
helping the "suspension of disbelief" as one plays through the game.
As far as atmosphere goes, it's sufficiently creepy. The game does not
hand out ammunition readily, so it keeps you carefully selecting your
shots. In fact, the relative lack of ammo gets quite annoying after a
while. Rather than being able to save at arbitrary points, you can
only save at selected points on the map (where you find
typewriters). The game provides 20 save slots, however, which is well
beyond what any other Wii game offers.
The things which get on my nerves the most are the motion and aiming
controls. They do not allow you to straffe (move sideways) and moving
the camera around requires the movement stick, instead of pointing
with the Wiimote. The Wiimote only lets you point/aim within your
current field of vision, and you must use the stick to pan your field
of vision around, which feels quite unnatural once one has gotten used
to using the Wii to pan around (in other games, that is). Aiming with
a zoomed-in telescope, on the other hand, uses the stick, which is
highly inaccurate compared to aiming with the Wiimote, and makes
sniper-style shots really difficult to aim properly.
The limited capability of the Wiimote as a pointing device makes me
wonder whether this game's use of the Wiimote is any sort of
improvement at all over the old-style (Gamecube/PS2) controls. A
side-effect of the controls is that it's impossible to move and shoot
at the same time, which means you cannot back away from zombies and
shoot at them while doing so. You have to back up, stop and shoot,
back up some more, stop to shoot some more, ad nauseum. If the
movement/shooting controls weren't so awkward i would rate this game
, but as they are i find myself fighting with them too
often, which detracts significantly from the game.
is a local copy of a pretty good walkthrough for the game
(295k plain text).
Rogue Trooper: Quartz Zone Massacre
, Rating: 4+
When i saw this on the shelf, my memories went back to a late-80's advertisement
for a roleplaying game called Rogue Trooper which had a picture of a soldier which
looked uncannily like the only on this game's box. Always interested in seeing the
return of retro gaming material, i hastily picked it up. In this game you play
the role of the last Rogue Trooper - a genetically-modified warrior trying to
track down the traitor who's actions lead to the death of your brethren. While several
other websites have given this game poor ratings, i simply cannot agree with them. i get
the feeling that they're trying to compare it bit-per-bit with the graphics and sound
quality of the higher-end consoles, with which the Wii simply cannot be fairly compared.
My opinions are:
The graphics are, as of this writing (April 2009) the best i've seen on the Wii.
The levels are huge (some of them have taken me 45-70 minutes to complete), the
controls are mostly comfortable to use (grenade aiming being the only major exception),
the soundtrack is good, and did i mention it has great graphics (by Wii standards)?
The combat system is full of options and fun to play, especially when you can shoot the
enemy soldiers' air tanks and watch them scramble around for a few seconds before exploding
and flying off the screen. At the end of each level you get to see how many shots you
fired, your hit/miss ratio, and other ultimately useless but nonetheless interesting information
(like how many air tanks you hit).
For any fan of single-player shooter games, i have to highly recommend this one. (While the
game has split-screen multiplayer support, i'm not one of those players who will
ever get around to playing it.)
Scarface: The World is Yours
, Rating: 2
i bought this because i wanted something senselessly
violent, but not as downright gory as Manhunt 2 (a game where you use saws to
cut people apart... not my cup of tea). The first level is a real bitch! It's
difficult! And, unfortunately, it gives me motion sickness.
i often get motion sickness when watching people play 3D games,
and any time i try to read while in a moving car, but only rarely
does playing a 3D game trigger it. This might even be tolerable if the graphics
were halfway impressive, but they're notably mediocre.
After spending 2 or 3 hours playing, i'm completely underwhelmed. The vast majority
of the time - 75% or more - you spend driving a car all the way across town to
talk to your next contact. Not only does that get really old really fast,
the controls for driving are weak indeed. There is no way to hold a constant speed,
which makes driving far more problematic than it should be. And few of the other
drivers on the road pay any more attention to red lights than you do, so banging
up the car significantly during any given trip is almost a given.
The only time this game has actually been enjoyable have been the two scenes where
the main character (Tony Montana) takes on huge numbers of thugs single-handedly,
but even those parts are highly annoying because they're quite difficult and the
checkpoints (points in the game where it re-loads if you die) are so few and far
Aaarrrggg... and then there are so many time limits imposed on you. Even the first
level has one. Time limits in games just piss me off.
i won't be playing this game again.
, Rating: 3
StarTrek Conquest is an overly-simplistic turn-based strategy game
with colorful spaceship combat added to it. It is fun but monotonous,
and once you figure out what single button to press at the start of
each combat engagement, it's basically impossible to lose ship-to-ship
battles unless your fleet is hopelessly out-classed. i would have
liked to see more variety, at least in the combat system. All in all
it's fun, but repetative, with acceptable graphics and sound, though
some of the sound-effects are sorely out of place (e.g. one of the
Klingon captains continually screams "shields are at 63 percent!"
regardless of the shield level). The only really negative thing i can
say about this game is that in about 1 game in 5 or 10 it locks up,
either while it is starting up or during ship-to-ship combat. Lock-ups
are fairly infrequent, though. The game is good for some stress relief, but
is not deep enough to provide much strategic enjoyment.
Splinter Cell: Double Agent
, Rating: 3.5
It's not quite fair to rate this game yet, as i have so far only played
through the first three missions, but... it seems to be fairly
entertaining. It got horrible reviews throughout the net, but i'm
not quite certain why. Like other games in the Splinter Cell
franchise, it is about stealth rather than about shooting all of
the Bad Guys. The graphics are nice, the controls are fairly well
laid out, and the camera controls are good. This game isn't for
"twitch gamers", as it requires lots of patience. Normally i wouldn't
have bought this game, because
Chaos Theory for the Gameboy DS
proved way too tough for me to get through, but it was on sale.
Tip: if you search the web for a walkthrough for this game, you are
unlikely to find one for the Wii version. The PS3/XBox360 versions
of this game are very different, and their walkthroughs do not apply
here! However, the PS2 edition of the game is apparently identical
(or nearly so), so the PS2 walkthroughs are also useful for this edition
of the game.
Here is a local copy of one
(195k plain text).
StarWars: the Force Unleashed
, Rating: Most Impressive
i was extremely hesitant about buying this game, mainly because i had
doubts about the Wii's ability to do justice to any
StarWars game. Let's dismiss that immediately - this has got the best
graphics i have seen to date (October 2008) in a Wii game. My initial
suspicion was that the Force powers would be limited to a few
level-specific items, and probably be klunky to use. Again, throw
that idea out - there's all kinds of stuff one can throw around with
the Force here, all kinds of Force powers to accumulate and try
out, and they're fairly easy to use. And cheat codes for the impatient. The graphics are, for the
Wii, remarkably detailed, though it often sacrifices detail in
favour of better shadowing, which gives the illusion of higher detail
in places (e.g. take a close look at some of the ships in the cutscenes). The
characters and levels are, however, quite detailed (again, by Wii standards),
movement is fluid, and the controls are easy to use. There are two negative
things to say about this game. First: one has to remember tens of different control combos
as one accumulates various Force powers. Second: it's difficult or impossible to play for hours
on end because one has to move the controls so much (my arms give up after 30-60 minutes
of play - maybe you are more fit than i!).
, Rating: 4
My girlfriend hates games of all sorts. Computer games, card games,
dice games, strategy games. Games in general, she hates them. She has,
however, a sick fascination with Tetris. We've spent endless hours
playing Tetris on our DSes, and when she just happened to see "Tetris
Party" on the screen as i was browsing the Wii online shop, she
excitedly asked, "do we have that game?" A couple clicks and a few
minutes later, we did. Like Tetris for the DS, this Tetris rendition
has several new variations on the game (6 varieties, if i recall
correctly, and the one where you have to help a tiny chipmunk-voiced
person climb to the top of the screen is probably the most
original). Aside from supporting multiple players in the same room, it
also has support for online play. Like the DS variant, Simone and i will
almost certainly spend many hours playing this.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2007
, Rating: 4
i hate golf, i really do, but this game is wonderfully done.
It is jam packed with various courses (18 of them, some of which
must be unlocked by defeating certain "challenges"). You can
play any of the 35 built-in golf characters (most of which
must be unlocked during play) or create up to 5
custom golf characters. The character editor includes a
powerful appearance editor, so you can customize your golfers'
appearances to an amazing degree. The "pro shop" has over
1000 items which can be bought to equip your golf characters
(using money which you earn via participating in events), and some
items increase your characters' skills (such as adding driving power
or helping you control the spin of your ball).
Sadly, the developers apparently did very little, if any, usability tests
on some of the out-of-game UI elements. That is, a significant number of
the UI elements are clumsy to use, and having to click through 4
dialogs every time you save
The in-game controls and play are superb, however. Even golf non-fans
will certainly enjoy this one. The night we got it, Simone and i played
it for four hours straight. (The only computer games she will play are
Tetris and this one.) After some 12 hours of play in the first 24 hours
of owning it, my right shoulder hurt for 2 days (you've got to swing
the control to simulate your golf club, of course).
If the UI were not so clumsy in places i would rate this game a 5 out of 5.
(Luckily, the clumsy parts are all out-of-game,
meaning before/between/after golfing sessions.) The number of modes
and difficulty levels make the replay value the highest i have
yet seen in a Wii game.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2008
, Rating: 4
This second installment in the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 200x series
makes some subtle improvements on the 2007 version, but then
blunders up some other (more important) aspects of the game.
First let's get the bitching out of the way...
My first complaint is putting... the biggest foo-foo of this version.
The putting system was completely
overhauled and, in my opinion, bungled. The putt-preview system has
been revamped to allow you to try out your putt before actually
hitting the ball, but it is no longer "free".
You only get a (short) limited amount of time per match
the previews, so you have to carefully choose which putts you want to
preview. Not only that, but the largely broken swing controls
in putt mode (see below) mean that most of this practice/preview
is taken up with just getting the club to register your swing.
To make it worse, they didn't improve upon the
confusing/annoying "red, blue, green" grid in putting mode,
which i find infinitely more difficult to visually judge than i do
the simple grid system used by Wii Sports Golf. Then the swing controls
are nearly completely hosed in putt mode - i have to swing each
putt 4 or 5 times before it will register my swing (but see below).
Swinging also mis-fires a significant amount of time
while putting, causing you to hit the ball too softly. (While many reviewers
of PGA Tour 2007 complained about misfires in general, if you're careful about
how you (don't) move your wrist, you can cut the misfire rate down to less than
1 shot in 200. That seems to not be the case with putt mode in PGA Tour 2008,
at least when in Sitting mode (see below).)
i also see, with annoying frequency, that the ball will fly over
the whole (without going in) even when traveling at low speeds. When this
happens, the commentators often shout, "that's impossible!" or "whatever
happened to gravity?" Indeed! The putt previews are also often incorrect.
That is, the preview will show you one thing and then executing the shot
will do something else (even hit with the same parameters as the preview).
My second significant complaint is that the game
now has a new mode for the controls - it can differentiate between
sitting and standing. That's all fine and good, but read on...
The game defaults to standing mode, and if you
try to swing while sitting down (i.e. with the Wiimote pointed sideways)
it won't let you swing. That's fine because the default can be changed to
Sitting mode (i don't stand while gaming). But what sucks is that the game
then completely ignores the global default setting and forces you into
Standing mode at the start of each match (which then must be toggled
by going into the Options menu during the match). Aaarrrggg.
[Addendum #1: After
much poking around, it seems that the type of control can be set
in the user's individual profile, under the Animations settings (why
[Addendum #2: After much trial and error, it seems that putting works more
or less as expected, except for the hole-overfly, when in Standing
mode. In Sitting mode i just can't get it to work properly, though.]
Enough complaining... there were also a number of minor improvements
too numerous to list here, but here are some of them...
The often-clumsy UI of PGA Tour 2007 has been cleaned up somewhat, but
it still has areas which are clumsy to use. Overall it is an
The graphics are slightly better than those of PGA Tour 2007, but
not amazingly so. The grass looks a tad bit more detailed, but i could
be imagining that. The players, in particular their skins, also appear to
be touched-up somewhat compared to PGA Tour 2007.
A big addition to this is a course editor(!!!). i haven't used it yet, so i
can't say anything about it. Another nice addition is that it is now possible
to re-play matches against the AI players in the Tiger Challenge mode and
some matches have multiple AI players (and you can play arbitrary matches
against up to 3 AI players).
There are many more customization options and difficulty toggles,
which means this version of the game has the potential to have a higher
replay value than its predecessor.
Well, it would if putting wasn't so fundamentally flawed/frustrating/difficult.
If putting were's so frustrating, i would rate this game at 4.25 or higher.
And a final note for the EA developers (and this applies to PGA Tour 2007
just as much as this version): i frigging HATE being forced to play
One Ball in the Tiger Challenges!
(If you also hate One Ball, here's
a tip: with your first shot force a Betrayal or Double Betrayal and let the
AI player do the approach work. This works more often than not.)
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2009 All Play
, Rating: 4
If you haven't played Tiger Woods 2007 or 2008, then this game is a real
treat. This is the best golf sim i've played so far, with all sorts of options
for customizing one's play style. Many of the comments for Tiger Woods 2007 and 2008
apply here - an all-around good game. However, if you have
Woods 2007 or 2008, be prepared for some frustration with this game. The swing
strength needed for a given shot is much
different in this edition - what used to be
a casual swing to get 100% power now results in about 88% power. Getting 100% or higher
now requires puting a literally painful amount of energy into the swing. Putting, especially,
is affected - what used to be a light tap to carry the ball 4 meters will now carry
the ball about 20 centimeters. Not only that, but you get only one chance per hole to view a
static (completely non-interactive) putt preview, a big (and painful) divergence from both
the 2007 and 2008 editions. Once the swing strength differences are accounted for, this game is
probably a lot of fun, but i haven't gotten that far along yet (i've spent so much time playing
TW2007/2008, that my arms are finding it difficult to adjust to the 2009 settings). Switching between
2007/2008 and 2009 will be nearly impossible, unless one has an uncanny ability to judge his swing
strength across the different versions. Additionally, i get the feeling that the swing strenght calculations
are very inconsistent in TW2009 - an all-out swing might equate to 106% power in one swing and 93% in
the next swing (and in putting this is certainly true, by [annoying] design).
Aside from the swing power differences, there are several new swinging options (e.g. the ability to
draw/fade a shot without using Advance Mode swinging), and other improvements (the graphics,
for example, are nicer, and there is a swing practice/tuning range). However, EA kept the overall
klunky menus (different skin, but same feel), and obviously haven't yet called in a UI design
person to help them solve the various usability issues which have been around since TW2007.
And a tip for the EA programmers: there is no frigging reason in the world why we should have to
click through four
dialog boxes to save our state! The whole "this profile exists,
do you really want to overwrite it?" question is absolutely useless because we could not have
possibly gotten to that save point without the profile in place! (This bug has been around since TW2007.)
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010 All Play
, Rating: 4
Like its predecessors, TW2010 is a well-done game. It adds several new options,
such as (optionally) tying in to the weather forecast channel to provide current weather settings
for a given golf course, a new (IMO better) putting option, and access to detailed information
about the rules of golf. It can also optionally
make use of the Wii MotionPlus(tm) accessory to provide real-time swing feedback (which IMO provides
for a much smoother swing experience).
And, to top it off, they finally
added spectators to the golf courses!
i have only two minor problems with this installment. First, certain parts of the out-of-play
UI are klunky or non-responsive (e.g. in the skill selection list, the '+' button often
does not respond to a click, requiring one to fight with in). This series has a long history
of klunky UIs, so this is not terribly surprising. Secondly, the swing options are All
Play (where you have a 99% accurate preview of where you ball will land, which means you
can score 20 below par or better on any course), Standard, and Advanced, but in the latter
two the fade/slice options are always on. When All-play is on, losing any given round
is not a possibility since you can always see (before swinging) where the ball will land.
The Standard and Advanced modes, with
their fade/slice features, are too frustrating for me because i cannot for the life of me
swing without slicing. Thus i either get ultra-easy (which is too predictable to be exciting) or
ultra-hard (which is too unpredictable and frustrating). i would prefer to have the Standard
Mode without the fade/slice option, as in the earlier editions of the game. All things
considered, however, this is a recommendable addition to he franchise, and the All Play swing
option makes it accessible to young (or ancient, or physically handicapped) players.
Twin Strike: Operation Thunder
, Rating: 2
i had really high hopes for this helicopter combat game. Instead i got
a game with (A) lots of time limits (i HATE time limits), (B) an
annoyingly weak array of attacks (which makes meeting the time limits
extremely difficult), and (C) unduly awkward movement (which also
doesn't help in beating the time limits). The graphics are of typical
Wii/PS2 quality - acceptable but not outstanding. The accuracy of the
controls is a bit off (and a bit jumpy at times), making targetting
difficult (again, see point (A)), and sideways movement of the
helicopters is not possible in the normal sense. Instead of a
normal/intuitive/realistic sidewise movement you can "jump" sideways a
set distance (about one screen-width), but it happens at a speed which
makes it impossible to straffe and attack at the same time (again, see
point (A)). A big let-down. i gave up after failing (multiple times)
to come anywhere close to beating the time limit on the 3rd or 4th level.
That type of gaming isn't fun for me.
, Rating: 3.5
GameStop, my local game store of choice, had SpyBords on sale, brand new, for a 10 Euros. As a basis for comparison:
most pre-owned games cost 20 Euros or so. So of course i thought "for 10 Euros it MUST be crap... but i'll
try it anyway." Spyborgs is an action-heavy sci-fi beat-em-up game in the side-scrolling 3D style of several of
the superhero beat-em-up games the world has already seen (or any of the LEGO series of games). It has nice graphics and
sound, fluid, fast-paced action, and multiple difficulty levels (and the easiest one really is easy). Even if it had been
a full-priced game (about 40 Euros), it would be better than many of the other like-priced Wii games out there. But at
10 Euros it is an absolute steal. For fans of smash-the-bad-guys games, this one gives you a choice of three characters,
two of which you can control during any one level (the second is A.I.-controlled or a second player, and in single-player
mode you can switch between them at will). Each level is full of things to bash, including robotic bad guys, boxes containing
powerups and money, and hidden items which are revealed only when the Wiimote pointer moves over them. While not all that
original, Spyborgs is entertaining, and certain even more-so in two-player co-op mode, and is recommended for
any fan of this style of game.
, Rating: 3
This is a collection of 5 games: boxing, tennis, golf, bowling and
baseball. The tennis is difficult - returning a serve without
hitting the ball out of the court is nearly impossible. Baseball
just isn't my thing at all.
The boxing game was my first Wii experience, and i had a blast kicking
my buddy's ass.
The golf game is suprisingly fun (even for a golf hater like me), but
the repetition of the same 9 holes gets pretty boring after a few hours.
That said, the golf game turned me on to purchasing more advanced golf
games for the Wii (e.g. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2007). If they re-published
the golf game with, say, 10 different courses (of 18 holes each)
i would strongly consider buying it.
Zelda: Twilight Princess
, Rating: 4
While i have never been a Zelda fanatic (in fact, i considered the early games
to be crap), this one is a lot of fun. The graphics are nice and the gameplay
quite good. It has got a couple of terribly minor annoyances, but is overall
recommended for any RPG lovers. My main annoyance is the saving feature. When
you're in a dungeon and you save, loading your file does not bring you back
to the point where you saved it, but instead starts you back at the beginning
of the dungeon. Since some dungeons can take a couple hours to complete, i find
this behaviour to be remarkably inadequate. Also, after completing a dungeon you
often cannot re-enter it (or can only access parts of it), meaning that if you
fail to find some of the secrets in the dungeon then they are gone forever
(you cannot go back and get missing Heart Pieces in some cases, for example).
Players who are not Zelda fanatics will almost certainly want to have
a good walkthrough guide
at their side while playing (that particular guide is excellent).