Reviews & Articles

ReviewKingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

September 17, 2013
A great bite-size game from a great series
by: Pashford available on: Nintendo DS
I remember when SquareSoft would come out with a game and it meant I was about to be sidetracked by something grand for a good month. SquareSoft definitely made sure to hand out nothing but RPG gold, and it did so pretty effortlessly. Enix eventually came along and, well, ruined that. Not being a huge fan of much that’s come out of the SquareEnix group, the Kingdom Hearts series has not yet hit a real snag and has maintained interest for me as an RPG lover. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is a portable spin of the console series and is between the first and second games.

ReviewThe Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road

September 14, 2013
Flamboyant outfits, pianos, theaters and frogs not included
by: Psychphan available on: Nintendo DS
Very few items make it into public consciousness. No matter how hard you try, you cannot escape them. No, this isn’t about the fads of a decade. What I am writing about are the touchstones of humanity, things that you owe to yourself if you are a living, breathing person. One such example is The Wizard of Oz. It doesn’t matter if you read the book, saw the play or watched the movie; you know the basic gist of the plot and characters. (An old dog of mine was Toto in the play version several years ago.) The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road is similar to the original story but has a few twists.

The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning

August 17, 2013
by: Soapy available on: Nintendo DS
The cute little purple dragon named Spyro starts all over again in The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning. The storyline has nothing to do with any of the prior games, so you don’t have to have played any previous games to be able to pick up this one. The controls are a mix of touch screen usage as well as the regular controller, letting you solve puzzles and target bad guys with your thumb while moving and attacking with the D-pad and buttons. The game is released on several platforms, including the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube, so for a DS game, it’s just not going to be as nice unfortunately. Elijah Wood, David Spade and Gary Oldman do lend their voices talents to the game which is something to go “wow” over.

ReviewNancy Drew: The Model Mysteries

July 18, 2013
Nancy Boo
by: GrizzMagoo available on: Nintendo DS
I’ve read just about every Nancy Drew story there is, so I’m always curious to see how Nancy fares on a digital platform. So far, no DS version of the classic series has come close to recreating those exciting adventures Nancy and I used to share, and unfortunately, Nancy Drew: The Model Mysteries is still far from my childhood memories.

ReviewThe Legendary Starfy

March 25, 2013
One of the cutest underwater platformers
by: Psychphan available on: Nintendo DS

I confess that I’m a huge fan of tropical fish. And forget Nemo as I loved them long before I ever knew of his existence. The downside is that I never had a good track record with them. It is this love that I bring to the DS game The Legendary Starfy. While it is on the easy-side, it makes me wonder why this game doesn’t have a bigger following.

ReviewLet's Draw!

August 7, 2012
Follow instructions, learn to draw
by: Sylvene available on: Nintendo DS
I picked Let’s Draw! off the list of available games for review because I have an 8-year-old niece that loves to draw; she doesn’t follow directions too well, as we were to see, but she loves to draw. I handed the DS to her without the instruction booklet to see if the game was written for little kids or if an adult would be required to help.

ReviewElements of Destruction

December 22, 2011
by: Alladania available on: Nintendo DS
Deep down (deep deep down), I think we all secretly feel that meteorologists are messing with us. Those meteorologists out there reading this - they know it's true. In Elements of Destruction you play Marty, the crazed meteorologist. His boss, Miss Burns, has just fired him for too accurately predicting bad weather. Drew McCoy, who sees nothing but sunny days ahead, is his saccharine replacement. Marty does what any self-respecting meteorologist with a hobby in mad science would do in that situation: he uses his evil machine to control the weather and wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world.

ReviewCastlevania: Portrait of Ruin

December 7, 2011
Not many scenic stops …
by: Psychphan available on: Nintendo DS

I admit, maybe a bit too strongly, that Symphony of the Night has colored many a gamer’s perception of what a “good Castlevania game should play like.” Oh yes, the aforementioned game is almost considered one of the proverbial “holy grails” of videogames because no matter how many years have passed, it still feels fresh and inspired. This is something many videogames lack. So let’s travel back a few years on our DSs and analyze Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin.

ReviewScribblenauts

November 24, 2011
How well do you know your language’s lexicon?
by: Psychphan available on: Nintendo DS
Language is powerful. It is a way for us to communicate. It allows people to create worlds and take people places they have never seen before. This is present in this review: I created a space for you to learn about my experience. Scribblenauts for the DS comes downright close to doing just that in game form.

ReviewThe Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

November 6, 2011
Fighting monsters in the palm of your hand
by: Link_to_the_future available on: Nintendo DS
This game doesn’t mean to toot its own horn ... it just does. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is a smooth ride across the land of Hyrule, by train rather than by boat. A successor of epic proportions to Phantom Hourglass, the first DS Zelda game, Spirit Tracks carries on the tradition of massive boss battles, picturesque visuals and an entertaining tale.

ReviewElite Beat Agents

September 30, 2011
Still fun to tap to years later
by: Rz available on: Nintendo DS

Having a humorous cheer squad at your back would help anyone feel more empowered in their time of need. Elite Beat Agents, for the Nintendo DS, is about an agency that sends spunky music agents across the world to help people through their times of trouble or grief.

ReviewLufia: Curse of the Sinistrals

July 14, 2011
Gorgeous, fun, engaging, flawed
by: Psychphan available on: Nintendo DS

A million years ago, shortly after the NES ruled the earth, there was the Super Nintendo. That system wasn’t just good, it was awesome. Many of the games on the system set the standard for what is considered “classic gaming.” One of the games I was obsessed about was Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals. I know this game like the back of my hand. I know where every dungeon is located, how to solve [the majority of] the puzzles, where to get most items and spells, the locations of the capsule monsters and how the story unfolds. Now, Natsume has remade it and released it. Does it live up to how cool it was back at last year’s E3 and the standards of the series?

ReviewDementium II

May 14, 2011
Great portable survival-horror
by: Rinjo available on: Nintendo DS
Phase II is ready to begin. Pick up your DS, insert Dementium II, and prepare yourself for yet another twisted tale by the team that brought you Dementium: The Ward and Moon. Renegade Kid, the developer behind the much-appreciated Dementium survival horror/first-person-shooter series has out done itself.

ReviewRadiant Historia

April 11, 2011
A game with a lot of class
by: Psychphan available on: Nintendo DS

I still remember when I learned about Radiant Historia all those months ago. I remember not being impressed with it, that everything was a bit too trite. It looked like one of those games that we, as gamers, have seen one too many times before. I remember when I saw it in action over a month ago online, and it started to impress me with its soundtrack. And now that I have my hands on it, I can honestly say that this game surprised me. It sucked me into its deep plot, soundscapes and accessible yet tricky combat. This is definitely one of the unassuming masters of the role-playing genre.

ReviewNaruto Shippuden: Shinobi Rumble

March 8, 2011
A palatable Naruto game
by: Psychphan available on: Nintendo DS

I am not a Naruto fan on any level. Believe it! Every time I tried to watch the anime shows, it just came off as downright silly to me. Whenever I watched videos of the games in action or a review or even read a review of one of the games, the game came off as “stupid” to me. I don’t know what it is, but I could never connect with the action of the series or the characters. The game series has always had the feel of “shovel-ware” to me. However, I have played Naruto Shippuden: Shinobi Rumble for a while now, and I’m pleasantly surprised with it.

PreviewRadiant Historia

February 8, 2011
Is it a bright history ahead or a dark one?
by: Psychphan available on: Nintendo DS

Time travel is an interesting idea. In fact, I would call it an awesome one. Who wouldn’t be game to fixing the past for not only personal gain, but also to better the world? Of course, things are never this easy as time paradoxes and rips in the time-space continuum are enough to render the best of plans null and void. So where does this leave us in terms of gaming? Atlus has developed its own answer to this question in the form of Radiant Historia, which will be released Feb. 22.

ReviewKnights in the Nightmare

February 5, 2011
To turn away from the Night ...
by: Psychphan available on: PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS

I still remember when I originally learned about Knights in the Nightmare being ported to the PSP. It just didn’t seem like a good fit to me. How do you take a game that was so finely controlled with a stylus (or what could be considered a mouse) and translate it into a “traditional” gaming experience? It did not make sense to me to choose such a platform, but such a decision was made. Even though I saw Knights in action online several months ago, I did not believe it for myself until I saw it in motion. Amazingly, this is almost exactly the same game available for the DS and stands just as proud as its twin. It is an excellent thing considering how amazing the DS version is in general.

ReviewSonic Colors

December 11, 2010
The Sonic game we’ve been waiting for
by: TreavorClark available on: Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS

Many years ago, mascot rivalry was a huge deal. Everyone was on the mascot bandwagon, but no one seemed to be able to overcome the looming tower named Mario. In 1991, Sega brought a brash blue hedgehog with an attitude to the table, and Mario finally got a run for his money. The competition never looked more aggressive. I took my side back then. I didn’t hate Mario, but Sonic was just all the edge and speed a little one could ask for. So if you told me back then that in 2010 the new Sonic game, Sonic Colors would be a Nintendo-exclusive, that may have upset me greatly.

ReviewEtrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City

December 3, 2010
There’s a lot of class in this ocean exploration game
by: Psychphan available on: Nintendo DS

I like the beach. But, who doesn’t on some level? Despite the old traditional reasons for going for the cool breezes and sun, it is a soothing place. Oceans and lakes have been around for millenniums while we live out our lives. I find it to be soothing to watch them and remember that some of my problems are only temporary. With this in mind, I present to you Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City for the DS.

ReviewChrono Trigger

November 21, 2010
It doesn’t really get more epic than this
by: Full Sail Student available on: Nintendo DS

Chrono Trigger is known as a standard in videogame RPGs, and there’s a very good reason: solid gameplay and a truly epic story. Sure, it has the classic — and now overused — themes like a princess that just wants to tag along, a seemingly heartless villain with a complicated backstory and an alien that wants to eat the world, but all of these elements are still fresh anytime I play the game. One of my best friends and I still talk about Chrono Trigger because its story is rich and timeless.

ReviewWitch's Wish

September 20, 2010
Making magic and helping people
by: Psychphan available on: Nintendo DS
Magic is a fascinating element. It can help make an ordinary fantasy story extraordinary. It is also what helped sell millions of Harry Potter novels. Suffice to say, life would be a lot more interesting if magic were present. This was in the back and forefront of my mind as I played Witch’s Wish on the DS.

First LookKnights in the Nightmare

September 2, 2010
Will you survive the night?
by: Psychphan available on: PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS
When I first learned Knights in the Nightmare is coming to the PSP, I was immediately concerned. How could something that so highly required the touchscreen of the DS transfer to the PSP? I could easily imagine it being ported to the iPod Touch or iPhone. But ported to the PSP? I just could not imagine it. Atlus was kind enough to show us a working demo of the game.

ReviewCastlevania: Order of Ecclesia

August 27, 2010
Fun but lacks the necessary ecstasy
by: Psychphan available on: Nintendo DS
I love exploration. And I’m nosy. Give me the opportunity to poke into every corner, and I’ll do it. Even if the corridor leads nowhere, I’ll happily do it. I won’t peak into someone’s desk drawers, but if it is on a counter of some sorts, it is fair game. Anyway, one of my favorite NES games was Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. Although it retained the old control style of the original, it took things a step further. There is this massive world waiting to be explored. The townsfolk could lie to you, and the clues, although not entirely complete (cartridge space was much more limited in those days), might lead you in the wrong direction. But I loved it. I remember renting it for several weekends during those days, whipping zombies to death, gaining levels and exploring the countryside. It was a very introverted experience. The only person you could truly rely on was yourself. But now, modern gaming has made it obsolete. And the automap function has spoiled me the most. What is this all leading to, you might be wondering? The latest addition to the Castlevania mythos: Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia. It is a solid DS title, no matter what you think of it.

ReviewPuzzle Quest 2

August 11, 2010
Bigger and better and could be considered even more unfair
by: Psychphan available on: Xbox Live Arcade, Nintendo DS
I don’t get the whole “matching” shtick. OK, maybe that’s an understatement because I can match socks, and wearing a pair is a must if you wish to leave the house. What doesn’t make sense to me is how millions of people enjoy matching the same few colors ad nauseum and the game not taking the gamer anywhere. The original Puzzle Quest took the matching genre in a natural progression of what gamers have already seen. Collecting gems allowed gamers to use skills to manipulate and damage their opponents. It was fun. And it had gamers dreaming of gems falling from the sky. Several years later, Puzzle Quest 2 is finally in gamers’ hot little hands.

ReviewBakugan: Battle Brawlers

July 28, 2010
Solid strategy game for kids
by: Psychphan available on: Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
I don’t know children’s shows very well anymore. I do not watch as much Cartoon Network as I used to as I tend to stick to shows on DVD. Anime doesn’t always agree with me. Furthermore, it has been many years since I have willingly watched an episode of Pokemon or Yu-gi-oh. I am aware of the current craze: Bakugan. And some of my charges are obsessed with it as well. Although, I think they like how it all looks and not about the actual strategy involved. This brings us to the Wii incarnation: Bakugan: Battle Brawlers.