If you know what I mean when I say that it is refreshing when a real time strategy game attempts to do something outside of the familiar concept where several factions build structures that allow them to kill off their competition, then Pikmin 3 is a game you will probably enjoy. Alas, if you are also the type of person who swore off Winnie the Pooh as too childish when you were six years old, then you might want to look elsewhere.
Pikmin 3 is a game for those who like to tinker. It is for the mechanically-minded, the patient and the curious. It takes place in hugely miniature play areas rendered in a gorgeous 3D elegance as if they were the computerized visual notes of an artificial intelligence that travels to alien worlds and records what it sees. It is a game about cute little space people who raise adorable plants and flowers to twit and twitter through twee adventures with bizarre organisms. These adorable creatures live in a world that is at turns heartbreaking, unnerving and devastating, aimed toward neither children nor adults.
Pikmin 3 requires patience in order to fully appreciate it. Above all other things, it rewards long-term planning, careful strategy and a keen eye for observation. If the essay is about you commanding a legion of small creatures to do an astoundingly varied series of tasks, its thesis is that it's hard to manage so many independent lifeforms. If you have entertainment ADD, where you buy lots of entertainment things, but don't read, play, watch or listen to many of them, you might just play Pikmin 3 for five or so hours and then forget about it forever.
That would be a shame, because it's ultimately the best game in the series. In the original game the concept was a little undercooked, and while the time limit was a neat idea, it didn't work quite right. Pikmin 2 was more thorough, but went too far in the other direction in making it more of a hardcore dungeon-crawling real time strategy plant army simulation. Pikmin 3 nails the balance. You need to carefully look at your map, consider your options and delegate duties well, like Pikmin 2, but it has the tension that time introduces without being too short or frustrating like Pikmin.
It's best if you don't know a whole lot before you play it too. Much of the joy of Pikmin is similar to that of a child examining bugs in a microscope. If you've followed Pikmin 3's promotion and know all about its features and different Pikmin, the joy of experimentation amidst the unknown that the game fosters will be hampered somewhat. Pikmin 3 would have benefited from a surprise release because of this. However, it was blessed with an incredibly lengthy development time ranging past 5 years, so it is polished, long and contains lots of features for extended enjoyment.
Pikmin 3 is a game for armchair philosophers who can also find pleasure in the simpler things in life.
One of the major portions of a racing game is the environments that you are racing through. In this racing game, there are mountains, forests, caves and rocks, all of them beautiful to watch as you race through them at breakneck speeds. Despite the fact that this scenery rushes past you, it doesn't seem to move quite the way that it really would at that speed, leaving the player feeling as if they are watching a movie, maybe, but certainly not driving along at super-speeds.
Even worse than the visuals that you're driving through not appearing real, is the sense that you're not really driving over the terrain. This game is like that, giving the feeling more of floating over the track than anything else. There are even portions where you can just hold down the gas, and the terrain will properly steer your vehicle. Even with the huge jumps and thrilling drops that every course offers, any racing gamer worth their salt will soon want something more realistic.
If those two issues weren't bad enough, the boost system that is in this game is also unexciting. Boost is gained by driving through gates strewn about the course. In addition, performing special boost feats also awards your character boost, as well as smashing other opponents. While the little moves that need to be performed to actually garner some boost make the tracks a little bit more fun, actually performing boost drains the screen of color. The screens that had flashed past before, that were somewhat unrealistic, end up looking completely and totally unrealistic as you perform boost and supposedly go ultra-fast.
As you drive through the course on Nail'd, you end up bumping things, here and there. That's not a big deal, as long as the bump physics remain consistent. In this game, however, they do not. A minor bump on the side of your vehicle can totally stop you without a moment's notice. A bigger bump, from an angle, traveling at speed, however, sometimes allows you to drive on without even noticing it. These inconsistencies make a player feel like every level is more a roll of the dice then a race.
Despite there being an online component, and also a hefty single player campaign, there just isn't enough in Nail'd for a gamer to spend their time on. There are other ATV and motorcycle games out there, and while Nail'd delivers a couple of rushes with their big drops and jumps through circles of flames, you'll probably want to just rent this game, and find another to fulfill your need for the race.
Kinect Disneyland Adventures allows you to take a virtual tour of the Disneyland Theme Park, and you are guided around the park, compliments of the Golden Ticket, and using the Kinect you are allowed to walk freely all over the site. There are also missions which you must complete whilst you are on your tour of the area, and some of these involve meeting various characters such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy, just a few of the best known comic creations ever created.
There are numerous adventures and missions during your stay in the park, for instance, riding a bobsleigh, which by controlling goofy you need to sway from side to side to avoid any obstacles that happen to be whizzing past. Other animated missions include snow ball fights with yetis and underwater missions where you have to wave your arms in a swimming motion to navigate through the underwater worlds.
Unlike many other titles they have left out the option to allow players to create a unique character for themselves, but they do give you an option to be able to customize various characters which are included in the game. I thought this was a pretty standard feature and I am not sure why they left the option out. During the game you also get options, after completing certain missions, to obtain badges, to gain an overall star rating. You also have the option to purchase unusual costumes and so forth from the numerous virtual shops.
The sound in the game is pretty good, in fact some of the best I have heard on the xbox 360 Kinect. The overall movement with the Kinect seems to work remarkably well on Disneyland Adventures.
The game has an age range of around 7 -10 and older gamers might end up struggling to be able to stay interested in the game, even though there are numerous missions and collectables as well as lots of character interaction. The game is free roaming and as a result you often find yourself walking great distances in order to go from one mission to another, and this with the addition character missions leads to the claim that it has upwards of 100 hours of gameplay. That rather depends on the player!
Having played Disneyland Adventures I would agree with this, mainly the 100 hours is down to the sheer size of the Theme Park, and the constant traveling required in order to explore all the missions and obtain all the badges located in the game.
Overall it is hard to make an overall impression on this game as it is kind of a hit a miss, some grown ups will find amusement here whilst others will not be able to stay engaged. A younger user may find much more entertainment as the game is more geared towards the younger generation of game players.
Just Dance 4 is another interesting game that has made its mark as a one-of-a-kind series of games. Gameplay is the same as ever, with additions made to certain modes, but Just Dance 4 doesn't have a whole lot to offer over its predecessors. The game features an excellent song list, the changes have been improvements and if you're a fan of the series this will be a must-have game for you.
When I say that the game has an excellent song list, I don't mean that all of the songs appeal to my personal tastes. And that's just the point. The game features over 50 tracks (using DLC and unlockable music) that will appeal to a wide range of audiences, and it's obvious that the makers of Just Dance 4 over at Ubisoft are trying to expand their market. The only real fault with their song selection is that every song on it has been wildly popular at one time or another; they apparently decided that popularity (or past popularity) indicated quality in all cases when they were selecting songs.
There isn't really anything specific that sets this game apart from previous titles, but what changes have been made are improvements. The game now features a head-to-head Battle Mode, which is awesome because it shows off the true strength of the game; multiplayer gaming. There has also been some expansion to the "Just Sweat" workout feature. Other modes and features have been removed, such as the "on fire" in-game mechanic previously earned by getting a certain number of "goods" and "perfects" in a row. Simon Says Mode, Playlists, Medley, Speed-Shuffle, Just 8-Player and Just Create modes have all been dropped.
Players of the game now have "Song Quests," which entail six missions per song to earn Mojo Points. PlayStation 3 players can also create "dancer cards" that display relevant information such as favorite songs, best scores, etc.
Negative opinions about the game seem to come from the two-mode playing structure, which doesn't leave a lot of reason to buy the game if you have any previous installments in the series. In this sense, it may have been a mistake for Ubisoft not to include the extra modes found in past games. Despite this, many critics and players have indicated that the game is a lot of fun to play, especially with other people.
Just Dance 4 was released to mostly good critical reviews, although not many have chosen to review the game. This is possibly due to the similarity to previous titles. Metacritic gave it an aggregate score of 77/100, but it must be pointed out that all except one of the cited reviews came from the Official PlayStation Magazine. The different reviews came from different countries that the magazine prints in, and scored the game at 80, 80, 80 and 70/100, with the lowest score coming from the United States iteration of the publication. User reviews gave the game a score of 58/100.
Wii Music arrives as the third in the Wii Sports, Wii Fit, and Wii Music trilogy, and as the third in the series, Wii Music shares much of the same visual appeal as the others. Across the range of sixty different instruments, you'll see your Mii's presented in clean and fluid 480p resolution. The game doesn't exactly shout visual technical prowess, but then again the entirety of the Wii line has been more focused upon the experience, rather than visuals. Unfortunately, where Wii Sports and Wii Fit excelled in providing intuitive and responsive gameplay, Wii Music falls short.
Wii Music's gameplay is different from that of rhythm games like Rock Band, and rather than focusing on recreating musical tracks, focus is placed upon improvisation and and arrangement of music. Unfortunately, the forgiving nature of the gameplay reduces much of the experience to that of a simple noisemaker, albeit an advanced noisemaker. Rather than notes being played correctly, a waggle of the Wii remote results in changes in rhythm, pitch, rate, and volume. Waggling of the Wii remote lends itself to the re-creation of some instruments more effectively than others. Utilization of the Wii remote to play stringed instruments as if you're using a bow feels authentic. Turning the Wii remote upside down, holding it to one's mouth, and tapping the one and two buttons effectively mimics the playing of wind instruments. Unfortunately playing the piano involve nothing much more than simply frantically waving the Wii remote in front of one's body. Needless to say, this lack of Wii remote responsiveness breaks the link between what the player is doing and what is occurring onscreen.
The manner of gameplay which was most heavily promoted during Wii Music's Electronics Entertainment Expo reveal focused upon the conductor mode. The promise of standing before a full orchestra and mimicking the gyrations and waves of the New York Philharmonic sounds intriguing even to the most jaded among us. Unfortunately, the execution of such a potentially magical experience leaves much to be desired. Waving of the Wii Remote directs the on screen music's rate and rhythm. Unfortunately, after investigation, one's success is determined very little by the actual movement of the Wii Remote. Comparable scores were earned when attempting to conduct "correctly" and simply waving the Wii Remote like a madman. This lack of consistency between the movement of the Wii Remote and what is reflected on screen nearly breaks the entirety of the conducting portion of the game.
This is not to say that none of the provided portions of Wii Music works. The drumming portion of the game, with the aid of the sold separately Wii Balance Board, approximates drumming on a full kit in unique and exciting ways. Various buttons presses on the Wii Remote changes drum types and provides the player with an excellent drumming toy. Unfortunately, even the instruments are enjoyably approximated, Wii Music's litany of public domain sourced musical selections and in-house produced Nintendo game themes simply aren't very fun to play, or very well composed. Presented in the MIDI format that does allow for much customization leads to a tinny, child like sound that in the end doesn't provide greater flexibility than that of well produced Rock Band of Guitar Hero songs. The few more contemporary pieces included in the game, such as Madonna's "Material Girl," The Jackson Five's "I'll Be There," and The Monkees' "Daydream Believer" are left nearly not listenable in their MIDI composed form. The representations of these songs sound as if they belong in that of an elevator than being pumped through your home audio equipment. The songs that are most playable and most at home being listened to in a MIDI format are the songs lifted from various Nintendo franchises. Unfortunately a scant seven songs are sourced from Nintendo video games. Needless to say, despite the path blazed by previous rhythm games, downloadable content in the form of additional songs has not and will not be coming to Wii Music.
While Wii Music is certainly not short on ambition, the high minded concept of creating a musical experience that cannot be "failed" leaves the game feeling more like a toy than that of an interactive experience. Further refinement of Wii Music concepts could lead to a fully formed videogame, but as released, Wii Music simply isn't worth your time, creativity, or money.