Pandora’s Tower, the last of the Project Rainfall operation and probably the least recognizable of the three. Pandora’s Tower is another RPG game, which uses elements of action-RPG’s but is more level-based, especially compared to that of its two brethren, The Last Story and Xenoblade Chronicles. In addition, combat takes a bit of twist in this game as your sword/weapon of choice is not the only way to defeat enemies, in fact your chain (called Oraclos Chain) is a integral part of not only fighting, but exploration as well.
Platform: Wii/ Genre: RPG
Developer: XSEED / Publisher: Nintendo
The story of Pandora’s Tower is a relatively simple one, as you take the role of Aeron, a former solider of Athos, who is trying to save his girlfriend Elena. Elena is cursed while she is performing at the Harvest Festival, somehow transforming into a hideous beast. Upon running away from the Elyrian Army, Aeron and Elena get some help escaping the city from a Vestra merchant named Mavda. Mavda brings them to an abandoned tower called the Observatory and explains what is happening to Elena. After the explanation of the curse, Mavda gives Aeron the Oraclos Chain and tells him he must venture to the 13 Towers above the Scar and bring back the Flesh of each of the Masters; that is the only way to rid of the curse. Along your journey of defeating the Thirteen Masters, you learn about The Scar, what the Masters and monsters in the Towers really are, and how war has ravaged the land for nearly five centuries, and why Mavda had decided to “help” you. In a non-spoiler type fashion, the game has multiple endings depending on how you treat Elena (more explained below), so the story and its meanings do alter depending on which ending you get.
The last of the ‘Operation Rainfall’ mission for the Nintendo Wii’s trifecta of JRPG’s, Pandora’s Tower, is apparently being delayed for another month. Originally planned for a March 26th release, now the game is scheduled to be released April 26th.
To read my real opinion on Skyward Sword click here [link available tomorrow or Monday]
The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword, the true “first” game of the mysterious Legend of Zelda timeline. The game obviously portrays you as Link, the destined hero, although there is a little more of a twist in this game than the regular Zelda. This time you aren’t saving a Princess, Ganondorf is not in this game for the first time ever on a home-console, and the Master Sword does not even exist! [yet]
Platform: Nintendo Wii Genre: Action Adventure
Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo
It’s here just like I promised, a quick-reaction preview and what to expect of Pandora’s Tower. Pandora’s Tower is not complicated, doesn’t involve countless grinding hours, and, in my personal opinion and play-through so far, quick.
Kirby Return to Dreamland, a long awaited project for the Gamecube that was pushed back for a couple of years, which was supposed to be the next home-console Kirby game…a better Kirby 64. As time passed and passed and then we were tricked for another Kirby Wii-home console game (Kirby Epic Yarn), we were finally delivered one of the Wii’s swansong games.
Kirby Return to Dreamland is a 2.5 side scroller with cooperative player similar to the New Super Mario Bros Wii. In the game Kirby retains his ability to copy and inhale with the side bonus of now “super inhaling” where you can inhale multiple objects or enemies and fire a larger star out of your mouth. The game ranges from 7 worlds with 5 levels and a boss in it and in addition to the ship parts there are 120 gears to be collected in each level, which lead to mini-games and bonus challenges for Kirby. The multiplayer let’s you choose to being Kirby (for 2P-4P) or Meta-Knight, King Dedede, or some sort of like pirate Waddle-Dee. The only problem with multiplayer is the sharing of lives, but there are enough free/1-up’s in each level to make sure you don’t strangle your partner. There are no camera problems and all-in-all there is enough “space” for four players thought I find the game played ideally with one or two players.
Difficulty- The game is not overly difficult but compared to Epic Yarn where you couldn’t die in basically every level, it is much harder. Some of the real challenges coming to getting 100% (clearing all challenges and getting all 120 gears); some of these gears actually make you think, but other than that it is fairly easy game for a seasoned-pro [and its cake walk for Super Mario Bros: Lost Levels players lol].
Gameplay- Gameplay in Kirby plays like many of Kirby’s games that aren’t his side adventures so basically like Kirby Superstar with new features. In this game besides inhaling and copying abilities, you get multiple moves with each ability compared to say the Amazing Mirror where each move was limited. If you would get the Fighter Ability, you can hadoken, uppercut, Akuma downkick, rapid punch; as for getting the sword many Zelda homages are in it such as charged sword spin (SSBB-Link) and a laser for a full-health swing (Link to the Past). One of “easy” aspect of the game is the fact you can fly forever (in which other Kirby games you get tired from SuperStar to Kirby 64), but other than that no changes are made to mainstream gameplay. Multiplayer was discussed; many levels played similar to Kirby 64 and Superstar as mini-bosses featured during each level with a set bar of health, in which you can inhale them after defeated.
One new aspect though is that of Ultra Abilities which allowed you to inhale a glowing enemy and do “ridiculous” attacks. Say you received the Ultra Sword, Kirby would pull out a Giant Sword, a Giant Meta-Knight Sword, or a fan and it would swing across the entire screen destroying not only enemies, but parts of the area as well. The Ultra attacks all vary from launching a fire dragon to becoming a giant snowball you control.
Compared to Kirby 64, which allowed you to mix abilities to create new ones, the abilities seem a bit downgraded, as you had a lot more possibilities in K64, but with all the new attack additions, you feel like you have discovered a new power; or this how you always imagined Kirby would be.
*sidenote I think this game was created with Melee or Brawl’s engine which helps
Music- Music is classic Kirby, there is no real words to say on that being an either you like it or you don’t. But you will recognize some old tunes, remixed of course, and you will hear new tunes. I for one am a fan of Kirby’s happy melody’s so this was a win.
Overall- Overall the game is pretty quick, but getting all 120 gears and fighting some classic bosses, with the addition of multiplayer makes this another Kirby game worth its buy. This may be a game for fans to start getting into the Kirby series as it is no Kirby 64, Amazing Mirror, Superstar or Dreamland 3 (with the animals), but it still a great Kirby game. Compared to Epic Yarn the game completely dominates in all aspects. While Epic Yarn felt like a Scribblenauts mixed with Kirby to try and make a new formula, Return to Dreamland returns to its roots and adds more for the modern day gamer, showing sometimes games don’t need to change to be good, maybe just a few additions.
Michael Troina writes features and reviews Nintendo games for Analog Addiciton. When he’s not writing or playing games or sports, he’s out at his job at the Daily Bugle taking pictures as the web-slinger we all have come to love…either that or he’s getting sandwich saving one world at a time. Find him anywhere with this flavors.me/michaeltroina
Mario’s first…err second no wait third (Paint and Kart) “not-Mario” game was Mario Party for the Nintendo 64. See, Nintendo had decided to make Mario past the superstar he was. In the N64′s for short life time he had already given us a new way to play (Super Mario 64) and gave the best multiplayer in Mario Kart 64; so he was looking to top that with Mario Party. (And don’t forget the rumors/screen shots of Mario in Mario Tennis and Mario Golf)
Mario Party released in 1999 here in the U.S. was truly a great game. It was like a board game meets some action-adventure gameplay. The game had two real modes single-player “mission” mode (I believe one of the first games to have it) and the regular everybody knows Party mode. See the game is meant to be play multiplayer; but single player would suffice and to add to boot it had 3 different modes. Completing party games, meant unlocking new mini-games ranging from 4 player, to 2 vs 2, to 1 vs 3, to just one person games. After beating each level in 20 turns (or more if you wanted) there would be a “collection” at the end; where your stars and coins were built up and you could check on them and buy additional things at a store and bank.
The concept was really cool, it felt more than just a mini-game. While there was no legitimate story, once you collected 100 stars you would get a new stage called something around Bowser and Magma and from there you get a new stage Eternal Star which played as Mario Party but getting the star was a completely different matter.
Normally Mario Party goes like this:
- Decide who goes 1-4
- Win the first couple of mini-games to establish a coin lead
- Watch out for Bowser, other players using Boo, ? dots/spots, and various map distinctions (like DK’s level had thwomps, Mario’s has a castle switch button)
- Buy Star for 20 coins (or steal it 50 coins)
- Constant mini-gaming
Now, at the Eternal Star had you “face-off” for the star which was a different play-style than the Mario Party you have been playing. The reason is because all the Bowser Jr’s would make you pay and you would basically do a “high-or-die” roll game; meaning if you lost the faceoff, well you got nothing so it was a challenge to get the star.
All in all I still believe the single-player mini-game mission mode was the best. You would travel from world “1-1″ which the games weren’t ranged from easiest to hardest, but setting to setting.
If you really wanted to know my favorite mini-game have to beat platform peril, the Mushroom color mix-up, and the single player mini-game pirhanna peril. I absolutely HATE the slot car derby and I don’t even know how I beat Toad in the last mini-game boss one.
Now after a success Mario Party 1, Nintendo tried to build off that with another Mario Party, almost rushed onto the scene in Mario Party 2, which was short and not as fun. It was a new game in a sense of level design, character design, and mostly new mini-games but something was missing it was short or not as much as a challenge. Nintendo fixed that later with Mario Party 3, although it received a negative response, still felt better than Mario Party 2.
Because of Nintendo having success with these party games, an all new type of gaming was made, once again due to Nintendo. Crash Bandicoot (Sony Playstation’s Mascot for a while), who wanted to be a Kart Racer (in Crash Team Racing) now had Crash Bash to party it up, Sonic came out with Sonic Shuffle (LOL), and many other gaming companies now had party games.
Nintendo still remained on top and come 2002 Mario Party 4 was released and man was it done right. The game built on Mario Party 3 and stuck with traditional party mode, but now it had all different types of just mini-game modes, the games were fun, Mario Party felt reborn and it was done right.
Unfortunately, someone from Nintendo must have gotten a concussion for future Party games so come and enter Mario Party 5. You would like to think it would be good using the Paper Mario 64 stars, but it was awful. The “story” mode was now not story built in with party mode, but an entirely different crappy game where you would just run around chasing Bowser Jr’s for a few levels before facing Bowser. It was not enjoyable at all. The party mode was very bad in Mario Party 5 as the mini-games were given no attention because of the new story mode that Party Mode felt just thrown in.
The best thing though in Mario Party 5 is the hidden mini-games of hockey and beach volleyball. The games were unique, quite fun to play with 2-4 people, and could keep you running for a few hours.
Now, as I mentioned Mario Party 5 was the beginning of the fall well 6 and 7 must have been the one that pushed Mario Party off the cliff. Mario Party was declining, and Nintendo decided to come up with something new; the dreaded Microphone. This was supposed to go into a memory card slot and all the Mario Party players were to use it for the mini-games, a la voice command. Boy, besides the fact that it never listened, the games were completely stupid. The game downgraded from a good multiplayer, to decent, to JUST SESAME STREET CRAP. Really it felt like I was watching a tv show with elmo or dora going RED….RED….
Mario Party 8 for the Wii gladly disbanned the Microphone but once again, the story mode was even easier and “nerfed” down again and the mini-games for party mode were aimed the younger audience.
I haven’t seen anything related to Mario Party 9 except that it was released in March 2012. I really don’t know how to perceive this game. I mean I do own every Mario Party…it’s just I’m afraid to get this. I used to look forward to challenging mini-games and going all out versus my brother but now ….it’s like ehh who wants to waste time on Mario Party?
Kind of weird…a throwback Thursday has to do with a game that doesn’t come out in the US until the middle of the month [August 14th]…oh well. To start off to say there was never one dull moment in the game. Not once did I not want to stop playing or just go let me take a break, this came keeps you going the only problem may be you can’t run faster in the town well BUT all in all I enjoyed my entire playthrough from the game.
The game starts off with you in a cave, I believe, playing as Dagran until you switch over unto our main protagonist Zael. Throughout this entire cave scene you learn the arts of battle in the game, from choosing to live-action RPG or auto-attack, to moving, dodging (you can jump/flip over characters and walls), to sneaking/crouching behind walls, sniping with your crossbow, and obvious guarding. Your team consists you as Zael, a swordsman with a secondary weapon of a crossbow, your best friend Dagran (swordsman no secondary), Syreene (dual swordsman), Yurick (fire-attack magic only), Mirania (the healer) and Lowell (the playboy..err I mean swordsman and blizzard magic). A big factor in this game requires of you to scout before each fight. To clarify, scouting is something mainly done in SRPG or TRPG (tactical RPG) where you can see the enemies, their stats, and what their main fighting style is. After fighting and learning of the strategy, you get a magical power called the Power of the Outsider which now puts the cogs of this story into motion.
Story: The story advances from the opening scene cave and you meet a mysterious girl in town, who turns out to be Lady Calista! (The girl on the front cover of the game). Learning this to be a royal lady (this turns a bit like Aladdin here) your real adventure begins at the castle and the secrets that lie with you power, Lady Calista’s power, the castle, and many more await.
Gameplay- The game is very….linear compared to Xenoblade but not as linear as you would think. Let’s seperate this like Id o for all RPG games and in Main World and Battle.
Main World- Most levels like I said before are linear and many maps and the general constraints of levels practically drive you to the end of the area, there are many secrets to be found. The town is pretty small but is filled with many sidequests and things to do. Your “home base” is a tavern in the city; where the city is separated into four districts/sections. Fountain Plaza, Castle Gate Plaza, Shopping District and the Arena. The Arena is an area where you choose from your own party and fight random monsters, while not only earning experience, but earning goodies from the battle and townsfolks there after. It is the perfect way to perfect your fighting skills’; The Arena is a great addition and one of my favorite things in the game. If you just want to battle or level up or, even win some cash, then waste time at the Arena! Before each match you choose 2 or 3 partners (obviously your teammates) and you battle! There are “seasons” so season 1 is 10 battles with increased difficulty every time season 2 is new enemies, new formations, etc). From there on the idea of shops were cut briefly, with only two stores having a walk-in area, the rest just being menu shops at doors. Horace is an upgrade merchant who plays actually an important role in the main story and has many sidequests [and as said he is the only store you can walk in]. Talking with NPCs is very easy in this game, as important characters, or characters with side-quests you actually have to talk to; but other characters with hints just talk aloud (think FFXIII-2 where exclamation points meant actually talking).
As you know this an RPG, so there are weapons and blacksmiths. Fortunately for us, upgrading and removing curses from tiems couldn’t be easier. All one must do is hand it to the blacksmith and pay or have a required item and pay! No hassles or pain in the ass methods like most games require! While I did say the game was more linear, the areas have many secret doors and places for you to discover, so it isn’t as awful as FFXIII.
Battle Gameplay: Is fantastic, really there is nothing wrong with it at all! The fighting can be chosen as auto-attack or you attack per-button-press. I recommend the later, to really experience the joy of fighting in this game. Firstly, with Zael you not only have hand-to-hand (weapon?) combat but you have sniping, which you can choose from different arrow/ammo sets (say a Flame Burst instead of regular arrows). Fighting moves consist of learning new skills such as Vertical Slash (crouch and slash your enemies), Guard Counter (perfect guard aka press guard the second you are about to be attacked), to Wall Attack (run up a wall and crush your enemies). Like I mentioned before, while you may scout before fights, you can also give directions to each of your teammates, thus making a perfect attack. Every character has special abilities that you can combine with skills to be able to deliver devastating blows. A big part I forgot to mention, is that the Last Story is one of the few games that brings a crouch/lean element in an action-RPG (think of most 3rd person shooters doing this) and the idea of ‘using temmates’. By pressing B, you are able to flip/hop pillars, your teammates, and even enemies to get behind/in-front of them to deliver combos.
Music- The music isn’t as good as Xenoblade (sorry I brought it up) as really you only hear the music in the Title screen. However voice acting is superb in this game GENERAL ASTHAR!!!
Graphics- The graphics were clean I found no glitches or camera problems. The movie sequences had very nice graphics the only problem is the game is very dark at first so brighten up to the max.
Replayability- Hmm..this is a tough one. I would definitely replay the game as it is not too long (definitely a 30-40 hour game) [15-20 hour speed run with no sidequests] but at the same time I feel like I maxed out my enjoyment of the game. Being able to use the replay or fight extra baddies due to sidequests gives off the feeling of needing to replay the game.
But replayability is enhanced due to the multiplayer features this game has, such as team battling, or a free-for-all aganist 4 people, playing as all the characters from the game.
Overall this game is a
While the overall review score may be lower than that I put for Xenoblade Chronicles, this game was my favorite of the two (I have not played Pandora’s Tower). The Last Story felt like a new entry/upgrade for the action-RPG gameplay type and I really liked what they did with it. By combining elements from all types of RPG gameplay (even Tactical!), you remember this game for it’s gameplay, even though it’s story is none to shabby. Compared to Xenoblade, I mentioned before the auto-attack and free moving in a battle felt like a facade of “dodging” because even though you could be behind an enemy, you still would be damaged, where here real-time battling existed.