04/27/2009

Lo and behold, another DS review has been posted. This time it's Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume.

04/21/2009

No new reviews or articles today, I'm afraid. I do have some bad news, however. The forums have, once again, been completely overrun with spam bots. I'm pretty much at the end of my ropes regarding this issue. My current host (Godaddy's complimentary hosting) deals in some strange arcane magic that prevents me from implementing a captcha image, and this is the only sure way to stop the bots. Either way, I'm going to shut down these forums and just go with one on a separate, free host. Being a free host, those forums will probably go down at some point as well, but it's better than nothing.

In other annoying news, Godaddy has discovered my secret technique to bypass their ads. They added in the extra bit of code to make sure their ad will show up at the top of all my pages, no matter what. I can't figure out how to get rid of this one, so we'll have to make do. I might remove my own Google ads to make up for it. They aren't generating any revenue, anyway.

Now, let's get back to a slightly brighter mood. I think I'm back in first place on any Google searches with the keywords "gamers tavern", although I am not positively sure. Sometimes I'm first, sometimes I'm not. It seems to be an eternal struggle between good and evil. Which one am I, you ask? I implore you to use your imagination on that one. Oh, and I've tweaked the review layout again. I think it looks better, and that's all that matters.

04/14/2009

There's a new review up: Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure for the DS.

04/02/2009

If you're searching for signs of bad times, then look no further than Sonic and the Black Knight. Exhibit A features a blue hedgehog wielding a talking sword in a medieval setting. If I didn't know any better, I'd say this was an April fool's joke. No matter how much you may want that to be true, it's not. It's not true in the least.

Sonic and the Black Knight plays like a vastly improved Sonic and the Secret Rings. Both games have ridiculously long titles, and both are on-rails affairs. The most notable of improvements is the control scheme; instead of titling the Wii remote like a steering wheel to maneuver about, you use a more traditional method with the nunchuk's analog stick. Backtracking is still awkward to perform, what with how the game isn't designed with that small fact in mind, but it's not as infuriating as it was in Secret Rings. Thing is, nobody wanted a game like Secret Rings.

This time around, you'll be utilizing the Wii's motion sensing capabilities to swing your sword. That's not as fun as it may sound, though, because the way in which you swing the remote won't correspond to how Sonic swings his sword in the game. It's exactly like pressing a button that you may find yourself pressing one too many times due to the ill response. Because the game revolves around the careful timing of your sword swings, this unresponsiveness can be a bit of a problem. It is possible to get through nearly all of the game's missions through senseless waggling, but you'll be ranked poorly for it.

Most missions will merely task you with reaching the end of the level or defeating a certain amount of foes, but a few will have you do other things. The ones that really bothered me were the "ring-giver" missions, where you are tasked with the giving of rings to the poor friendly folk you find on your way. Sonic Team must have a thing against giving, because you're inflicted with a terrible button-pressing mini-game whenever you find a peaceful villager to give rings to. You must successfully complete this to actually hand them the rings in question. If you fail at this whimsical mini-game, then the hapless villager will scamper off with a look of sorrow on his face. I fail to see the logic behind that one. To make matters worse, slashing your sword near the villagers will hurt them, and they'll run away in absolute horror. Sega decided to be clever by often placing a lot of monsters right next to the villagers, so combat with your foes will most assuredly harm your allies as well.

What I'm about to say instills me with guilt. I found the game's cut-scenes to be really well done, considering the dire circumstances. Dialogue was well-written, voice acting was spot-on, and the story book theme was visually appealing. The music's not too shabby, either. It's kind of like how the music was Sonic '06's only saving grace. It is a shame, then, that the talents behind these aspects of the game were wasted on such a shoddy product.

Just like Secret Rings, there are some partial RPG elements to the ordeal. First off, you've got "styles", which affect what type of support and action abilities you can learn. For some reason, you only get to use a single style all throughout the game, until you're near the end. These styles can be leveled up, as it were, by getting good ranks in each stage. Ranks are determined by 5 star ratings, with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best. I have no clue what determines your stage ranking, as I've tried a bunch of things and always found myself coming up slightly short. Maybe if I knew what was necessary to achieve high ranks, I might be able to do it. I ended up not caring, because it's not really worth it to bother with rankings in a game like this. Other RPG elements include a seemingly useless title that improves as you gain "followers" (basically the equivalent of experience points), and accessories. Most of the accessories won't serve much of a purpose, since they protect you from status ailments (poison, paralysis, and so on) and you never really encounter those on your travels. You get these accessories through a bizarre process known as "Item Identification". At the end of every stage, you get "ID Points", to which you'll expend on whatever unidentified items you found. Things that sound extremely useful are almost always pointless junk for your collection gallery. I mean, what's the point of picking up steel broadswords and silver helmets if you're not going to use any of them? I suppose Sonic is simply too cool to wear protection.

Sonic and the Black Knight is an extremely short game. We're talkin' less than 10 hours. This ends up being a blessing, and that's not good. I can't recommend a game like this to anyone, not even die-hard Sonic the Hedgehog fans. If you absolutely must, then rent it. Buying, however, is out of the question.

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