The Christmas season has already begun... well, for retailers anyways. November is the biggest time of the month for most publishers, and with titles such as Mario Kart, Final Fantasy X-2 and Beyond Good & Evil coming out, there will be no shortage of quality titles this year. Even if some of the newer games don't float your boat, you can always find older titles that have been released earlier on the cheap. Unless of course, you live in Canada. Then you have absolutely no chance. But at least we get free health care, right?
∑ ∑ ∑ TNL Staff
WWE Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain
I finally finished Career mode twice over, and both times I lost to The Rock in a Hell in the Cell match. I'm glad the challenge has been upped a little since the last game, because I found matches to be way too hard. Often times I'd have to deliberately injure myself in order to make it somewhat entertaining. Overall the game is still fun, especially the Elimination Chamber matches. Throwing people into those glass chambers is far too cool!
Mario Kart: Double Dash
At first I thought this game was boring as hell. Then I started unlocking new carts and characters. Then I got Mirror mode. Then I started playing it with a bunch of my friends. Now I see how wonderful this title actually is. Sure, it doesn't have that nostalgia factor that Super Mario Kart has, but in my opinion this is just as good as the SNES classic. I'm just waiting for that nifty Warp Pipe application to begin distribution so I can try this puppy out online against people around the continent!
The Lord of the Ring: Return of the King
I rented this game for the past week, and I'm totally loving it. I enjoyed the Two Towers game earlier this year, and this is pretty much the same deal. Going through the entire movie as one of the characters is enjoyable, and that's all due to the fact that the game is very addictive. Sure, it's pretty much a high budget beat-em-up, but between this and Double Dragon Advance, I've had plenty of ass-kicking to deliver for the past week.
Man, the past two weeks feels like a blur. Iíve been swamped with new releases left and right, along with a batch of games that Iíve been neglecting "somewhat", (well, actually itís because I really just donít the time like I did years ago). Of course, thatís only partially correct. Nearly each day has been spent logging onto XBL to play Ė what else? Crimson Skies, thatís what. If youíve caught our recent review, then youíve naturally been able to grasp just how remarkable this title really is (but to really appreciate it personally, youíve got to play it). Itís a good thing my girlfriend is understanding and a gamer herself (usually she spends time with Super Mario Advance 4 while I am having hourly dogfight sessions online).
Speaking of which, I picked up Mario Party 5 so the two of us could play together. This was the first time Iíve ever played one of the Mario Party editions so I am not privvy to the pros and cons of its predecessors. With two players, Mario Party 5 is definitely enjoyable, but I am pining for some 4-player action. The first time we played, the CPU kicked our butts (Wario to be exact) "magically" acquiring all the stars Ė virtually leaving us upset (and turning the game off for the remainder of the evening). In our second run, my girlfriend ended up beating me (itís only because she somehow won more mini-games than me). But since then, Iíve been victorious. Now I am looking forward to moving onto other challengers Ė her sister, a veteran of the original Mario Party installment. This Thanksgiving, Iíll be taking names. Iíll report back later.
In other news, Mario Kart: Double Dash ended up finding its way into my collection. I never had the opportunity to get some hands-on time at E3 until a recent retail demo was released. I ended up being one of the lucky ones to get the special package containing the bonus disc (which I havenít bothered trying out as of yet). I am impressed with the visuals, speed and challenge which this latest installment offers. And without a doubt, the new dual co-op feature is quite slick, allowing 2 on 2 battles with your friends. So far, Iíve only managed to get the gold on the 50cc levels (both 100cc and 150cc respectively got me a bit flustered since I always end up in fourth place!) I am hoping that I get rewarded with some extra bonus tracks. Hereís where I wish the GameCube titles followed in the same vein as Xbox titles Ė offering players downloadable content. Imagine the possibilities. More characters and stages from the Mario universe would increase the replay value exponentially. Either way, this is definitely an excellent title that every GameCube owner should pick up Ė especially if youíre a fan.
Other titles which I played briefly (but nothing too extensively to comment in detail) included kill.switch, Rainbow Six 3, Super Mario Advance 4, Rogue Ops, and Sonyís new Eye Toy (which youíll be hearing about soon here on TNL.) I even took a few minutes to play vCapcom vs. SNK 2: EO just to test my caliber.
...I'm rusty. Perhaps I should pick it up again? Nah. Crimson Skies owns me.
Another couple of weeks have yielded more slow progress on the games I'm playing as well as a pile of games that I'm not playing but would quite like to get to some day. The fall season is possibly the worst time to be a gamer, despite appearances. I used to believe that you couldn't have too many good games until I realized that yes, I actually do have too many to fit into the time I have to play them.
Bought but not (or barely) played: .hack//Infection, Zone of Enders 2 and Disgaea. Thank you, TRU Buy 2-Get 1 Free deal. I had already gotten myself Disgaea and put in a night's worth of play, and liked it enough that I got a second copy for my sister for her birthday. I'm reluctantly putting it on hold for a bit, though. I liked this enough that I don't want to ruin it by playing it when there just isn't time to do it right.
Gridrunner ++ recaptured me just when I was getting over it by the release of a special edition, Gridrunner ++ Arse on Fire. It's a souped-up version that runs faster, with a bigger viewing area, and most addictive of all an Endurance mode. One life, a larger concentration of enemies, good luck. Very few games make me count points and exploit every game trick I can find, and Gridrunner ++ is one of them. Sadly, the Arse on Fire version is now gone from the web, being a Llamasoft special limited thing.
I've put in some play on Midway Arcade Treasures, and though it's a great collection I'm feeling a bit mystified- I could have sworn I read that Moon Patrol would be on it somewhere. Moon Patrol is one of my all-time most played arcade games, and though I admit that maybe it's a bit dated it holds a warm and/or fuzzy place in my heart as the game that ate the most quarters after school, back in the day. You see, arcade games used to be popular enough that convenience stores all had one or two in there (my local 7-11 did a great job for a few years, actually) and for some reason the convenience store across the street from the library had five at a time. It was like an after school paradise where $0.25 could buy 30 minutes worth of entertainment, if you were good enough. It took forever but eventually, I was.
Both Gamespot and IGN said Moon Patrol would be in there, with IGN saying they played it during a game test. At least I know I'm not delusional, but now I need to track someone down and find out where my game is. Urge to kill... rising... I also found Silent Bomber on a trip to the Boston area and did some trades for Doshin the Giant (PAL) and Star Soldier (JPN) for Gamecube. Both are great, both are getting reviews, and life is good.
Final Fantasy XI (PC)
What, you thought I'd be playing something else? Ah, FFXI. I'm loving it more each and every day. My Elvaan Red Mage has now reached level 15 and has begun to venture quite far from the deserts surrounding Bastok. The Highlands have been my area of choice lately, even though the enemies there can be quite brutal. I've died on numerous occassions, and accepting death never gets any easier. Losing EXP and sometimes even levelling down is quite a harsh punishment for going after a difficult enemy or getting ambushed by another. Aside from the whole dying thing, however, FFXI continues to be very enjoyable.
Castlevania: Lament of Innocence (PS2)
I gave the somewhat-new Castlevania title a try last week. It was all right, but I couldn't help but feel as though I had been playing Devil May Cry 3. The switch to 3-D graphics almost seemed to result in a loss of the classic Castlevania "feeling". Again, Lament of Innocence was decent, but I think I'll stick to the good ol' 2-D CV games from now on.