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Game Reviews
'Metroid: Other M'
By: Nintendo and Team Ninja
(Nintendo Wii / ASIN: B002BSC4ZS / Rated: T / $49.99)

Features: 'Metroid: Other M' takes the best elements of first-person and third-person gaming to create a seamless blend between game play, storytelling and dynamic cinematography. Players hold the Wii Remote™ controller sideways while navigating and battling in third-person. However, at any moment, players can switch immediately to Wii Remote pointer controls to examine and explore the environments in first-person perspective. Metroid fans know more about Samus' suits and weapons than they do about what drives her. That's about to change.

The story begins in the middle of the events of Super Metroid™, when a baby Metroid gave its life to protect Samus. With voice acting and a rich story, players learn more about Samus' past as she weaves through an action-packed adventure aboard the Bottle Ship, a decommissioned space facility. As she hurtles into this new adventure, Samus will encounter her first mentor and Commanding Officer of the Galactic Federation, Adam Malkovich.

The development of Metroid: Other M is an exciting collaboration between Nintendo's Yoshio Sakamoto and Team Ninja. Sakamoto was the director of Super Metroid in 1994. Team Ninja is the renowned action developer of Ninja Gaiden. Metroid: Other M pairs Sakamoto's expert game design and exploratory focus of the classic Metroid series with Team Ninja's signature stylish, no-holds-barred action.

Description: For decades, Samus Aran has been known as one of the first female protagonists in video games, and one of the most enigmatic. Having traded her haunted past for the solitary life of a bounty hunter, Samus™ finally tells her own tale in this revealing, personal story of her failings, her flaws and ultimately her motivation. Metroid: Other M is an unprecedented collaboration that blends the slick, action-packed production of the world-renowned Team Ninja development team with the game design talents of the creators of the original Metroid. Metroid: Other M is a dramatic new direction for a legendary franchise and a bold new blend between cinematics, storytelling and the best in interactive entertainment.

Verdict: 'Metroid: Other M' is the third Metroid adaption for the Wii console and as the old saying goes, “Three’s a charm.” Nintendo and Team Ninja have put together one of the finest looking Wii games I have seen released so far. The controls are tight and simplistic using just the Wii Remote. I particularly liked how you could quickly fly through the third and first person mode with a quick flick of a wrist. It’s a smooth transition and I’d like more Wii games adapt to for action adventure titles, What I really liked was it never felt forced nor awkward to make the jump between perspectives.

Teaming up with Team Ninja was an excellent choice and a serious injection needed to the Metroid franchise. They proved to everyone that you don’t necessarily need HD to make a good looking game. Everything starting from the menus to game play to the cut scenes was crisp and smooth. The colors and textures were rich and life like. Mass improvements since the releases of Metroid Prime 3 Corruption and the Metroid Prime Trilogy. This felt like a grown up version of Metroid I was looking for.

Overall I found this to be an exciting leap forward into the world of Metroid. This game packs lots of action but keeps things in the simple Metroid roots that made this franchise so treasured. I definitely recommend it’s worth the investment of your time. Look to buy or rent this title.

Reviewed by: Ken Tebo

'Professor Layton and the Unwound Future'
(Nintendo DS / ASIN: B003O6E7DI / Rated: E / $39.99)

Features: More than 165 new puzzles weave seamlessly into the storyline. Players will be challenged with fun, brain-teasing logic puzzles and riddles, and even new types of puzzles. This game features significantly more hand-drawn animated sequences and voice acting than the previous installment of the series. Players who are still stumped with a puzzle after three subtle hints can select the new “super hint” option to point them toward a solution.

As with previous incarnations of the franchise, weekly downloadable puzzles* will be available after launch for a limited time.

*Wireless broadband Internet access required for online features.

Description: Professor Layton Confronts the Puzzling Mysteries of Time Travel Professor Layton and his apprentice, Luke, receive a confounding letter – from Luke 10 years in the future. But the message inside is even more troubling: London of the future is in disarray, and the only person who can help set things right is Professor Layton.

Verdict: It’s time to travel with Professor Layton and your Nintendo DS. Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is a nice addition to this growing puzzle adventure franchise. If you’re looking for a great time killer that challenges your mental resolve and tickles your wit, this is a puzzle game for you. The story and puzzles are designed for all ages keeping you engaged.

Be careful to take your time with this one, it can really suck you in with over 165 puzzle to figure out. I kept finding I wanted more. Good thing the game features weekly downloadable puzzles to keep this game lasting for lots of replay value. Bummer it’s only for a limited time.

Overall this is a great game for all ages and all puzzlers. Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is fun, has an engaging story, and is easy to pick up and play. If you are looking to expand your Professor Layton collection or looking for a new puzzle adventure, check this game out. It’s worth a trip to the store in your future.

Reviewed by: Ken Tebo

'Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies'
By: Square Enix Co., Ltd.
(Nintendo DS / ASIN: B002I0EH6I / Rated: 10+ / $34.99)

Features: Customization:
• Players can create their own heroes, deciding how they would like their face, hair and clothing to look. As the story unfolds, players become stronger, smarter and more powerful, and can create custom companions to join their group as well.
• Players will have fun discovering more than 900 pieces of clothing, armor, weapons and other items that will provide them with a unique appearance and special abilities. Even occupations can be customized and changed at any time. Players can take on one of a dozen different jobs with varying strengths, weaknesses, spells and skills.
• Fast-paced battles unfold as players decide what to do and then view cinematic action scenes. This format rewards careful thinking and strategy over quick reflexes. The more foes players defeat, the stronger their characters become.
Social Features:
• Special multiplayer modes let players share their adventure with others, allowing up to four players to team up via a local wireless connection and experience the fun of tackling challenging monsters and dungeons cooperatively with their own characters. Players can even leave the game active in their backpacks, pockets or purses and still interact with other players via an interactive “Tag Mode.” Fun information about players’ characters can be wirelessly transmitted to others.
• Treasure maps allow players to find otherwise inaccessible special dungeons called grottoes, which can contain rare items or enemies. In Tag mode, treasure maps and customized greetings can be exchanged automatically by players who come within range of one another.
• Players with wireless broadband Internet access can visit an online shop to find new items or download additional quests. The selection of items changes daily. Some downloadable quests will continue the main storyline of the game, while others offer standalone missions or quests themed to a particular time of year.
Story Elements:
• Talking with different characters will unfold the story and point players toward their next mission. All quests come with a reward, which might be anything from a rare item to a new, unlocked occupation.

Description: For decades, Samus Aran has been known as one of the first female protagonists in video games, and one of the most enigmatic. Having traded her haunted past for the solitary life of a bounty hunter, Samus™ finally tells her own tale in this revealing, personal story of her failings, her flaws and ultimately her motivation. Metroid: Other M is an unprecedented collaboration that blends the slick, action-packed production of the world-renowned Team Ninja development team with the game design talents of the creators of the original Metroid. Metroid: Other M is a dramatic new direction for a legendary franchise and a bold new blend between cinematics, storytelling and the best in interactive entertainment.

Verdict: Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies is another sequel the second best selling franchise offered by Square Enix. Just like previous versions of Dragon Quest games this one is sure to please fans new and old alike. The game play is genetically consistent with traditional turn based RPGs which are simple to learn and only really challenging for boss battles. The game allows the user to control each part members moves or giving the AI control. It’s built for all levels to take part in this journey of exploring lands, dungeons, and battling their way through increasing more challenging enemies. What’s unique to Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry is the multiplayer functionality. A host can open a portal to their game to allow up to three friends join him in and out at any time. This gives them control of their personal character to play for that session. Just be forewarned hopping onto a friend’s session does not help progress the game for the visiting party members. It does reward their assistance with experience points and the items they collect become available in their quest.

Graphically the game looks good with traditional anime wit and charm. The animations are consistent with most traditional RPGs. It sometime felt too traditional and repetitive but somehow kept me engaging. One of the nice aspects of this game was the customization to the characters to help update with the visual game play. The game allows the user to control a vast amount of the cosmetics, weapons, and armor for their avatars. It’s a nice feature that allows for interesting combinations. It also helps with the multiplayer function to keep focused on the your customized avatar.

Overall Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry is an engaging RPG for your Nintendo DS. It has lots of charm and will keep you busy for hours - if you are looking for a traditional turn based RPG. It’s even better if you can get some of your friends in on the fun and complete the quest together. If you’re up for challenge grab your Nintendo DS and find a friend it’s time to jump into 'Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry.'

Reviewed by: Ken Tebo

'Wii Party'
By: Nd CUBE CO., Ltd.
(Wii / ASIN: B003O6DZSQ / Rated: E / $49.99)

Features: Wii Party features Mii characters in minigames in 13 unique party game modes in which up to four people can play together. Party games such as:
• Board Game Island: Players use their Mii characters and try and reach the finish line by rolling dice to advance. Between turns, players compete in minigames to get extra dice to roll on their turn. Some of the 13 different party game modes take the fun out of the TV and into the living room. Some House Party games include:
• Animal Tracker: Players place four Wii Remote™ controllers (sold separately) on a table. Wii Party will then give the players an animal noise to listen for. Each Wii Remote will emit a different animal noise and the first player to grab the Wii Remote making the correct sound wins. This game can also be played with two people.
• Hide 'n' Hunt: One player asks the other players to leave the room and then hides Wii Remote controllers around the living room. When the other players return, they have a few seconds to find the hidden controllers hidden around the room. This game is also playable with just one Wii remote controller.
Woven throughout various party game modes are over 80 different minigames, such as:
• Derby Dash: Players use the Wii Remote as if they were holding a whip to spur their horse to victory in a horse race • Chop Chops: Players use the Wii Remote to see who can cut through vegetables the fastest
*For multiplayer modes, additional Wii Remote controllers are required and are sold separately.

Description: The Whole Family Stars in its Own Electronic Board Game. Wii Party is a fun, multiplayer* experience for everyone in the family that features your Mii™ characters in the midst of the action. Now Nintendo brings the fun from the TV and into the living room with Wii Party, a game that changes the way people interact with other players to get the results they want in the game. Featuring 13 different party game modes and over 80 minigames, Wii Party can be enjoyed by everyone in the family, regardless of age.

Verdict: Here we go again with another party game. That was my first thought when hearing about this title’s release. Since Nintendo had a successful franchise with the Mario Party series which spawned several sequels over the run of the N64, Game boy Advance and Game Cube it comes as no surprise that it would develop another of its own party type games for the Wii. Instead of using Mario and the rest of the iconic Nintendo family, Nintendo invited the Miis this time to the party and built the games around the technology embedded in the Wii Remotes. This is where the game really differentiates itself from the previous mentioned series.

I really enjoyed the experiences with games like a hot potato type game where players are required to pass around a Wii Remote (the hot potato) and press a series of buttons to prevent a bomb from going off. Move too quickly and you’ll set off the bomb. Another one I experienced required each player to balance a series of packages using the remote. Tilt too far in one particular direction and they would all fall. Games like these, which took advantage of the technology like the speakers and the accelerometer, were more engaging from my experience.

With 13 game modes and over 80 minigames there is lots of variety to choose from. Some games work better than others depending on the number of players participating and audience level. That’s expected with these party type minigames and may leave some people unsatisfied. In Wii Party Nintendo has a done a good job of balancing the games out so that it appeals to gamers of all ages. Overall it’s one of the better party type games so far released for the Nintendo Wii and can be a lot of fun with a group of friends and/or family.

Reviewed by: Ken Tebo