August 11, 2012
After winning a mansion in a contest he didn’t enter, Luigi invites his brother to check out his new digs. After getting lost on his way, Luigi eventually arrives to discover the mansion is packed with ghosts and they’ve captured Mario. The ensuing evening highlights how Luigi’s love for his brother overcomes his lack of confidence. All told though, Luigi’s night is full of mild laughs and humorous encounters rather than deep frights.
To combat the ghosts, Luigi utilizes the Poltergust 3000 – a special vacuum designed by Luigi’s most recent acquaintance, Professor Elvin Gadd. This vacuum sucks in the undead inhabitants and when Luigi returns to the safety of Gadd’s shack outside the mansion, the professor seals the ghosts in portraits. Capturing ghosts was initially a frustrating endeavor but with practice it became easier, but it never felt “just right.” Navigating the mansion was occasionally a laborious affair as well.
The mansion is quite large and it’s full of distinct rooms that are inhabited by similarly distinct ghosts. The mansion was broke up into areas which were capped off with a boss fight against a more menacing foe. Luigi’s Mansion was fairly straightforward, but there were a few times where I wasn’t sure what I needed to do to progress. Also, backtracking was a massive part of the game. Towards the middle of the game, when the number of unexplored rooms was dwindling, I’d usually have to traverse multiple floors in a convoluted fashion to move on.
The problems I had with Luigi’s Mansion were minor, but were annoying nonetheless. Its gameplay also wasn’t so fantastic as to redeem these annoyances. I felt like my time with Luigi’s Mansion was worthwhile though. It was a very positive, humorous adventure that has me interested in its upcoming sequel.
November 25, 2011
The Legend of Zelda is probably my favorite video game series. Nearly every game in the series has a blend of exploration, combat, and puzzles that I find fulfilling. I’ve played nearly every game bearing the name so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when the newest, Skyward Sword, was released this Sunday, I was at my local GameStop as soon as they opened. I’ve played it for nearly eight hours and wanted to write about what I’ve done so far.
This time around Link is a knight in training at an academy. Rather than a princess, Zelda is a fellow student who admires Link. They live in Skyloft, which happens to rest on a floating island, in the sky. Skyloft is home to many people and there is a bazaar with a handful of shops. There are other floating islands as well and traveling to them on Link’s bird reminds me of sailing in The Wind Waker.
For the first hour and a half I learned about the world around Link and took part in the Wing Ceremony, a contest proving one’s ability as a knight. Soon after this, Link learns that he and Zelda are destined for great things. While celebrating Link’s victory, Zelda was wrapped up in a tornado and fell to the surface. I heard many rumors of the surface as no one seemed to know what was down there. With some aid from an ancient goddess that everyone worships, Link headed to the surface.
I’ve completed one temple so far and I’m at the entrance to the second. To get to the first temple I had to navigate Link through some woods which were full of enemies, and a few helpful creatures called Kikwis. There’s one aspect of the art style that really shines in colorful locations like the woods and it’s the way scenery looks from a distance. The game looks cartoony, although it’s not cel-shaded. I’ve heard others describe it as painterly and I agree. When looking at something that’s far away, objects begin to blend together and look like a blotchy watercolor painting; it’s really cool to see.
The first puzzle in the first temple stumped me for a good while. It revolved around using Link’s sword in a specific way that’s only possible with motion controls, which play a large part in the game. Skyward Sword utilizes Wii MotionPlus which makes the motion controls more accurate than would be with a normal Wiimote. Nearly every enemy I’ve run into has required me to attack them in a specific way. The combat is a lot tougher than it’s ever been before, but it’s also more fun because each enemy is a puzzle and requires me to act as though I’m swinging a sword.
What I’ve had the most fun doing so far is completing side quests and exploring. As soon as the opportunity arose, I began flying to other islands and meeting new people. I’ve met many other people besides those on Skyloft and opened up a minigame and some sidequests so far. After completing the first temple, I was able to complete some sidequests back on Skyloft and received some rewards. I’ve been finding treasures like crazy and I’ve bought a lot of upgrades, aiding me greatly.
One thing that bugs me about Skyward Sword so far is the controls for falling. I’ve had to fall for long distances many times now and I can’t quite get the hang of the controls. Other than that minor complaint I’m enjoying Skyward Sword. I really like the less realistic art style, I’m having fun fighting enemies and solving puzzles with the motion controls, I’m digging the exploration and rewards, and I’m just glad to play another Zelda game.
November 7, 2011
Relationships are hard work. Cooperation is a requirement. If two parties can’t work together, there is no relationship, no way to reach a desired destination. Competition has a place though and no matter the type of relationship, competition will always rear its head. While these concepts can be seen as opposites, managing them is necessary to make any relationship last. Similar to Reese’s with peanut butter and chocolate, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure blended these two concepts together and it’s what I’ll remember most about the game.
When my girlfriend and I began playing Four Swords Adventure I didn’t anticipate it would take so long to complete. Even with limited time, we saw it through and completed the game’s nine levels with plenty of healthy competition. Rather than the typical open, but linear format of most Zelda titles, Four Swords Adventure is broken into levels which are comprised of stages. Instead of accruing necessary items and then tackling a dungeon, each stage is a self-contained challenge combining puzzles and action.
Four Swords Adventure’s puzzles derived mostly from utilizing the four Links in a specific way. The puzzles weren’t very challenging, but I remember one in the final level which stumped us good. A lot of the mental work simply required us to position the four Links in a specific stance and then stand on a button or hit switches, not very tough stuff. Boss battles were interesting. The bosses represented a “greatest hits” of sorts, but some were slightly remixed to take advantage of the four Links and the use of the Game Boy Advance.
The game’s use of the GBA was clever, but ultimately its Achilles heel. Instead of controlling our Links with a GameCube controller, we had to plug in a GBA and use it. Whenever we’d enter into a building or a cave or what have you, that person’s Link would then be transferred to the GBA. This allowed each person to explore the screen and its contents individually while not hindering others. To play the game like this, it requires that each person have a GBA and link cable, which makes the game hard to recommend to those who don’t have at least some of these items already. Playing alone just requires a GameCube controller, no extra accessories. Without others though, the game doesn’t really merit a playthrough.
Princess Zelda and the six shrine maidens get captured by Shadow Link who leads Link to the Four Sword. When Link removes the Four Sword from its shrine he is split into four and the evil Vaati is released. As Link rescues the maidens and retrieves four special jewels, Ganon makes his presence known. The game took my girlfriend and me through many villages and we got a lot of back-story through NPCs and Kaepora Gaebora. As mentioned earlier, it was a lengthy game and well suited for bite sized sessions.
Link’s quest was familiar; rescue a bunch of something and overcome evil, but there wasn’t a detailed narrative to propel my girlfriend and I forward. Thankfully this driving force was replaced by the unique duality of the gameplay. It’s hard to recommend because of the requirements, but The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure is a noteworthy example of games that blend cooperative and competitive gameplay, a difficult relationship to manage.
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure was released on GameCube in the USA on June 7, 2004. It was developed by Nintendo EAD and published by Nintendo.
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