Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

Kodu Game Lab

July 31, 2009

UPDATE: Since I joined an online community centered around Kodu, I want to link to the site in case anyone is interested.

So, about a few weeks ago, I downloaded Kodu Game Lab for the XBox 360. I was eager to make games with it, because I could make 3D worlds. The fact that the coding was simple was also a plus. There are, of course, a few cons to it. First, because much of the game is hard-coded, more experienced game designers may be turned off by its lack of versatility. Second of all, making games in Kodu Game Lab can be a bit tough for those with big imaginations. However, those don’t stop the program from being entertaining.

Within my first week of trying out the game, I decided to make a world that I could test some features on. It went pretty well, and it was simple. I can control a Kodu, and my goal is to grab the star at the other end of the map. However, I threw many things in as I built upon it. First, I had a lake, and in that lake were fish. I also gave Kodu the ability to morph into a submarine (though it took me a while to get it right) with the press of the Y button while underwater. But that’s not all. I used the cannon creatures and created them similar to The Legend of Zelda’s Octoroks. Since indoor capability is absent as of right now, I attempted to make do with building a huge bridge on top of the river connecting to the lake.I also added coins, though they don’t do much. Two of my favorite additions were the mountain and the murky lake. I got to use the sub in a more open space, and I made a mountainside trail for Kodu to travel. At the top was more than a nice view of the world. There was a red star that gave Kodu the ability to morph into a plane with the Y button. However, the powerup appears to be lost while “transforming” into other shapes.

One of my more recent worlds was an attempt at remaking Zelda 1 for the NES as a Kodu world. I learned how to “enter” and “exit” through the use of teleporting, which took some time to figure out. However, the idea hit a roadblock when my rocket powerup disappeared when I “exited” the “cave”.

My last world is a remake of Advance Wars’s Spann Island. I wanted to try building a strategy game on here. I hit quite a few hurdles, but I seem to be managing. Right now, the actual island is finished, and I’m trying new techniques for building an army. Though, with the size limit around, I seem to only be able to have a little over 20 units at once. Also, controlling units seemed to be much too difficult, so I decided to use a leader Kodu so that I can deploy units from factories through the use of sound effects. However, I have to whistle BEHIND the factories to get the units to come out. I did try my hand on capturing properties, but I decided to work with just getting my units in order, first. I only have three types to use: Kodu, for capturing properties; the bike, as sort of a tank; and the cannon, for artillery. If I am successful with Spann Island, I might include air and naval units in a different world.

This game is a good start as far as a Community Game goes, but I would suggest add-ons that allow Kodu Game Lab to do more things.

UPDATE (July 31, 2009): I just fixed the warping problem with in the Zelda world by programming the Kodu to go to Page 2 (the page where he can use the powerup) if he doesn’t see the star containing the powerup at all.


Final Fantasy 4: The After Years (WiiWare)

June 6, 2009

Sorry for my lateness. I have been incredibly lazy, recently. Some of it came from playing Final Fantasy 7 for hours at a time just to try to get to the next part of the game. That, and I’ve been playing some Spyro the Dragon. Anyway, I will talk about a game that came out recently, because I think some people are curious of whether or not this game is on par with the original.

Ok, first thing I want to push out of the way is how the story is broken up. The portion of the game with Ceodore, the son of Cecil and Rosa, comes with downloading the game. Additional portions of the storyline that revolve around other characters cost 300 Wii points each, with the exception of the final downloadable story, which might be the grand finale. That portion is worth 800 points, the same amount as the game, itself. Currently, only one other story is available: Rydia.

As for how the game flows, I’d say it feels much like the original Final Fantasy 4. One thing I noticed, though, is that Ceodore levelled up quite quickly, and by the time I was done with his segment, he was in his mid-30s. I guess it slows down as the story progresses, though, but I’m not certain. Many, if not all, monsters return in this game. You may notice that the difficulty rises a bit faster in this game. This can be even more noticeable in Rydia’s portion of the game. Also, you will gain a sizable party pretty quickly, so before long, you’ll have four characters to use. Some of those characters, however, play a minor role in the game.

The graphics borrow from the Game Boy Advance version of the game. This time, non-battle character sprites are now 16 x 32 pixels, as opposed to 16 x 16 pixels. In other words, you’ll notice that the characters are twice as tall. However, during flashbacks, the characters will use their original 16 x 16 size. Personally, I say that the game looks beautiful, despite the size change.

As far as the storyline goes, my personal opinion is that a game’s story is good when the player is eager to unravel a mystery within the game. In Ceodore’s case, there is the mystery of the hooded man. That character kept me wondering who he is, and I played a lot of the game in one sitting for that reason. Of course, there are other mysteries, but I won’t reveal them here. So basically, I found the story very entertaining.

Next, I want to talk about gameplay features exclusive to this game. First off is the moon feature. Certain actions are doubled in power or halved depending on the moon’s phase. And, on at least one occasion, a moon-phase-specific event is available, and I don’t mean those relating to the storyline. So, unless the game says otherwise, you may want to choose when you want to enter a dungeon. Like, if you want to pack on attack power, wait until the moon is in its waning phase. Another new feature is the Band command. When you select this feature, you can pair up with one or more characters to use a powerful joint attack. Right now, I’m not sure if the chance of discovering a new Band is 100% successful, so I’ll need to play a bit more to find out.

I highly recommend this game to anyone who has played the original Final Fantasy 4 for SNES, GBA, or DS. The game is split up into portions, making the price reasonable. It has a lot of nostalgic moments, but the feel is fresh.

Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce (PSP)

May 17, 2009
Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce

Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce

So, this week, I will cover a very interesting spinoff of the Dynasty Warriors franchise. The game’s character setup is based off of Dynasty Warriors 6, but the gameplay is unlike anything you’ve seen in previous Dynasty Warriors games. I will cover as much as I can about this new Dynasty Warriors game, and I hope that you find this game as fun as I have.

First off, let me cover the character setup. As I mentioned before, the characters are based off of Dynasty Warriors 6. That means that Liu Bei has his twin swords, Guan Ping has a pike, and Lu Bu has his cross pikes and his black armor. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. Each character has a sub weapon. Unlike the main weapon, whose type cannot be changed, you can change the character’s sub weapon to be anything you can buy from the Blacksmith, though the ability to equip a weapon of a certain strength requires a higher skill level with that weapon type, which can be increased as the weapon is used. So basically, since Ma Chao has a “Great Sword” as a main weapon, I can equip Guan Ping with a great sword as a sub weapon for nostalgic purposes. Because the game’s characters are based off of Dynasty Warriors 6, the following 7 from DW5 will still be absent: Jiang Wei, Xing Cai, Pang De, Da Qiao, Meng Huo, Zhu Rong, and Zuo Ci. Lastly, each character has his own Musou Awakening form, much like a “Super Saiyan” form from the Dragonball Z series, that gives the character one more jump and rush, increased stats, the ability to use the musou attack, and, as far as I know, a new weapon ability. For example, Cao Pi’s Longsword can generate shockwaves during Awakening form. Also, I want to note Cao Ren’s Awakening form. If he’s known as Mega Man in Dynasty Warriors 6, then I dub this form: Mega Ren X. 😛

Next, I will talk about the gameplay. The levels are split up into small areas, as opposed to one big area. I think that this is needed, because if the levels were one giant area, the officers would all head your way, and you’ll get nowhere before you’re surrounded by enemy officers who will be pounding you until the cows come home. There are not nearly as many enemies in Strikeforce’s maps than in other Warriors games, and there is much emphasis on fighting against other officers and giant weapons. Instead of K.O. counts, there are points. Although I don’t know much about the point system, I do know that each hit on an enemy is one point, and each KO on a non-officer enemy is 10 points. Every 10 points is one experience point. Aside from your main objective, there are also either one or two bonus objectives, which give you more points and spoils. Unless stated otherwise, the game will allow 3 lives, meaning that you can die twice before finally losing. There are crates and jars throughout the levels, as well. The crates hold spoils, and the jars hold either health or fury-replenishing items. Enemies also drop spoils when defeated. Finally, I will talk about the giant weapons. These weapons are in the form of monsters, and although there aren’t many of them in the game, there are definitely enough of them. They have VERY large amounts of health, and their attacks are often unavoidable.

Zhao Yun and his allies fight the giant weapon, Bi Xie, along with Lu Bu and his allied officers.

Zhao Yun and his allies fight the giant weapon, Bi Xie, along with Lu Bu and his allied officers.

Also to note is the town, which acts as your central hub. You can choose stages and change your character here, as well as buy new weapons from the Blacksmith, new orbs, which you can equip on your weapons, from the Workshop, new Chi abilities from the Academy, and various items from the Market. You can also exchange certain spoils for others at the Exchange. I personally don’t use it much, but I recommend to check it from time to time to check for rare spoils. Lastly, there is the Storehouse, where all your spoils are kept, as well as items you may have bought or earned. The old man in the town provides tips for you. Much of the time, when you return from a mission, you’ll find a girl, who will either talk to you or give you an item, an officer who will give you his card, used to upgrade your facilities, or a panda, who will give you a spoil in exchange for an item.

The game’s difficulty starts out pretty easy, but it quickly climbs. It was the only Dynasty Warriors game where I actually needed to level-grind to get past a certain mission. Even after reaching a very high level, you’ll will never be overleveled against some of the toughest challenges in the game.

As for my thoughts about the game, I must say that it is addicting. For a spinoff, I really enjoyed this game, and I loved how Koei executed the battles in the air. Even though I disagreed with Dynasty Warriors 6’s character setup, that same setup, ironically, made the game more flexible, allowing characters to be customized even more. I could have a Zhao Yun who is an expert swordsman if I wanted to. I could even make Xiao Qiao wield a massive Cudgel. But then, that would be silly. 😛 There are many, many kinds of orbs and Chi abilities to equip, so the combinations are nearly endless. Personally, I try to make sure my character gets a lot of jumps and rushes. Rushes help a lot against enemy officers, so that you can string together nice combos. In short, if you are a Dynasty Warriors fan, I definitely recommend you pick this game up. I enjoyed it that much.