Monday, October 26, 2009

At night I dream about pegs...

Peggle. The new Tetris? Never did I think that such a simple game, bought on a whim for 800 xbox points to play one night with friends online would take over my life.

Story 2/10: Not that the story sucks, just that it's a puzzle game. Does it really need a story? I guess in the Adventure mode you go through each of the Peggle Masters and learn their tricks... That is kind of like a story, right? If we're going to continue the Tetris comparison then it must be said that Tetris would get a 0/10 on story, and that is still an amazing game.

Graphics 8/10: The graphics are simple. I mean, you're shooting a ball at a bunch of colored bricks and pegs. What more could you ask for? You could ask for nothing more, but Peggle will give you something without you asking, because it loves you and takes care of you. Peggle will give you really funny backgrounds to the levels. And Peggle will give you a loading screen that, despite the fact that I've loaded this game 3023598 times in the last 2 or 3 weeks, still makes me laugh. Loading blinking lights? Loading zen masters? Comedy! PS - The photo below is probably one of my top 3 least favorite levels. I hate it so much.

Sound 9/10: It's repetitive music. When isn't it with a puzzle game? The reason this game gets 9 out of 10 is because the music on the level-choosing screen makes my 2-year-old totally wig out. She gets down with her bad self in a way no other music can make her. I need to download the song and make it my ring tone or something, because she loves it that much. All of the other gameplay songs are okay, they don't get annoying.
My only complaint? When you hit the pegs, there is a series of sounds that ascend in tone based on the number of pegs you hit. When you hit a blue peg it is not worth as many points as an orange peg, but the sound quality is the same. This might be hard to explain without you having played this game, but really you should be playing it anyways. So back to my point: when you hit enough pegs, you earn 25,000 points and you get a free ball. To me the sound of pegs you hit should be associated with the points, not the number of pegs...because when you hit mostly blue pegs you still get the high pitched sound, but you don't get a free ball because you only earned, say, 3,000 points. This makes me sad, because a high pitched noise is exciting and should always equal a free ball.

Gameplay 9/10: Simple is key here. And the amazing thing? You really do get better with practice. Somehow I think this game is stimulating the math cortex of my brain, because it's all about the angles. The problem is that I'm not great with math, and I can't believe how unbelievable the angle-issues can be (at least for me).
One nice gameplay feature is the modes. There is Adventure, Quick Play, Master Duel, and Challenge. You have to play through Adventure to unlock all the characters and the Challenge mode, but it is really fun and totally worth playing through over and over. I've spent some time in Quick Play, where you can just choose any level and play it, but most of my time since defeating Adventure has been spent on Challenge mode. You get all the levels with different and interesting objectives. Tetris comparison: totally fun, totally addictive game, right? So is Peggle, but with the added benefit of totally pissing me off sometimes. Like seriously? I get so mad when I can't beat a level. I was playing a challenge where I had to defeat a master on the hardest difficulty (at least I hope it was the hardest difficulty) and I was getting so irritated that my husband almost forced me to turn off the game. Almost. He didn't, and for that he lives another day. I'm just saying - for being such a simple game, it certainly has my attention (both good and bad). It is so addictive. It's like I can't stop playing it until I defeat all aspects of it. And this is not going to happen any time in the near future because really, 750,000 points on one level? I can not figure that out.

Overall 9/10: This game is so fun. You can pick it up and play it for 10 minutes or you can lose a few hours to beating Challenges and increasing your skill and top score.

Buy/Rent: Buy it. It is beyond worth 800 Xbox points (roughly $10.) You can get on and download the trial which gives you a really great example of how fun the game is. In fact, we here at my house played the trial for about a month, and fairly often, before I finally caved and bought the full game. It is worth owning though because of all the stuff you unlock with the full game (Challenges, etc.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Scene It! Box Office Smash

Most of my real life friends don't play video games. I don't understand why and I probably never will. I set out on a quest to find a game that all my friends could play. I wanted something that didn't require much skill but was fun for everyone involved. Thank God for Scene It! Box Office Smash.

Story: There isn't one. You play this game as a team or individual. Its trivia based activities in the form of a variety of minigames, which is nice. No one wants just straight up trivia question. There is the short play (15-20 minutes) or the long play (30-45) options.

Graphics: 10/10 The graphics of each minigame is appropriate. The games that show pictures, sketches, and 8-bit pixilation are pretty fun. Actually movie clips are shown often so you get to see some classic scenes in HD. Plus, you play as your Xbox avatar. So you will dig watching your character flip out at the end of each round. I never knew my likeness could jump so high.

Sound: 7/10 Of course, there is a commentator or presenter for the entire game. His one-liners and quips are actually pretty funny ... in the beginning. But with each round you play, the comments seem longer and more annoying. There is the option to turn down the voice or even possibly off. But overall, he's really not that bad, just repetitive.

Gameplay: 9/10 The game is fun. It moves along pretty quickly so you don't get too tired of any one type of minigame. The categories vary quite a bit so that all different ages can enjoy. There are categories for horror movies, westerns, comedies, Academy-award winners, different decades, and loads more. I'm a total movie buff so I pretty much dominated, but my less movie-savvy friends still had a good time when they came across categories they loved. The fun part is the game has excellent replay value. With constant updates, the game never really becomes outdated. There is always trivia from the newest movies and actors.

Overall: 8/10 I thought it was fun. Its a great party game. I deducted a bit for a couple reasons. One is that it's a movie based game. If one person or one team is amazing at movies, there is a good chance that someone is going to feel bored or not have fun because they are getting dominated. There are clearly more questions about more recent movies as opposed to older ones. So if I were to play with my family, I would probably wipe out the older generation and they might not have a good time. You can also play this game solo. However, if you aren't a cinema buff, the game probably won't entertain you for that long when playing alone. But if everyone is relaxed and ready to have a good time, it really is a great party game and one that is appropriate for most ages.
Buy/Rent : This one is a BUY ! It has great replay value and it won't outdate itself anytime soon. You can play alone or with as many people as you want. And for the simple reason that I love movies, I think it is in your best interest to own.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Although I have not reviewed it, I have played an thoroughly enjoyed Professor Layton and the Curious Village. Now I've gotten through maybe half of Diabolical Box and thought I'd give it a shout out. (Yes I should've gotten through more before reviewing, but it's like this: my 2 year old discovered the DS. I rarely get to play now.)

Story 8.5/10: It's not incredibly creative - a strange antique/relic causes mystery and a gentleman detective and his young assistant have to figure out the mystery... Hmm. But it is really fun and catchy, and the Layton games do a great job of expanding the story line through dynamic characters and interesting settings. I really enjoy playing this game and moving the story line along, because it does keep me curious about what I will find in the next room over. Will it be a hilarious character, like a fat lady who thinks her dog is her child? Or an ex-rocker-type who is now a train conductor? The world may never know...but I will as soon as I hit that precious little foot and walk through that door!

Graphics 9/10: I wanted to give it 10/10...well actually I wanted to give it 10,000/10 because I seriously love the art style of this game. I find Professor Layton & all the characters to be so adorably drawn, and the style of the environment around them is really awesome. I feel like I could print screen shots of this game and frame them as art around my home. The only reason I didn't give it the full 10 is because it's all kind of still frame - there's not really any animated action except the cut scenes which, for the DS at least, are really great quality. It's not even that I want it to be action, because I think that would take away from the artistic side of this game. I guess, after all this, it really should've just gotten that 10.

Sound 8/10: The background music for this game is charming, albeit slightly repetitive. And I'd have to put in "Curious Village" again to make sure, but the music might even be the same? (Probably not, probably just the same people creating the sounds.) I wish that we could mix it up. Perhaps let the player unlock different background songs that you can choose from? I do like the voice acting for this game, but I am always wayyyyy too impatient to sit there and actually listen. I'm totally a "Wow I like this voice acting but I am so going to read the closed captions and move on asap" kind of girl.

Gameplay 8.75/10: Again, I'm dinging this one just a little tiny bit because it is still frame and you just click around to move in the environments. This is kind of handy if you're not all that video-game oriented and you don't want to have to direct your character around, but for me it gets a little tedious and I feel like I am just sitting there clicking arrows instead of really immersing into the game. Also, finding the hidden "clue coins" by clicking all over the place? Really fun but also it has its moments where you just want to scream. Clearly I didn't mean to click on that same suitcase three times and hear Luke say, "Wow the Professor knows how to pack neater than anyone else I know!" I don't want to do that. I want to click on the couch cushion and find that darn hidden coin that I just know must be under there.
The puzzle play is fun as always. If you have played "Curious Village" then you know exactly what you're getting into.

Overall 9/10: This game is really amusing, and a great way to pass the time. It's also nice because you can put into it as much time in a sitting as you would want. Have 10 minutes to kill? Get on and play a couple puzzles. Want to lose an hour or more? Get into it and really progress the story line. Like I said, if you played "Curios Village" then you will know exactly, and I mean exactly what to expect with this game. It is very similar in storyline, and exactly the same in gameplay. Just new puzzles. And, thus far, I actually think the puzzles are easier than they were in "Village". Granted, they seem to get more difficult as you move forward in the game, but I specifically recall being a lot more frustrated early on in "Village." I think that this is a ding for "Box" because, well, I like a challenge. Don't get me wrong - I have definitely had some head scratchers and used up a few of my hint coins...just not as many this time as before. But man, I can not resist these early math class puzzles. They are so fun!

Buy/Rent: You know me..I always say Buy - haha. But really I think that the Layton games have a certain amount of replayability. There are quite a few puzzles that have solutions that you can improve your score, and, if you're like me, you could play this game and finish it, then play it again 6 months later and not remember any of the solutions. Oh, recycled joy! DS games are cheap though, and if you buy it you can just play this game at your own pace not have to worry about renting and returning. Do yourself a favor, pick this one up. It's way more fun than Brain Age.