Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Earphone Microphone for NDS

Voice-chat is realized with Nintendo's Earphone Microphone which allows communication between two Ear-Mic equipped gamers. The device's one-piece design clips the earphone portion onto one's ear while the microphone swivels down to rest perpendicular to your piehole. Speak and watch in amazement as the mic picks up your ramblings and trash talking. Metroid Prime Hunters supports the voice-chat function along with Wi-Fi Taiou Yakuman DS which is scheduled to arrive tomorrow. Looking to the near future, both Pokemon Diamond and Pearl also support voice chat.

The Block Kuzushi Quest

In the beginning, there was Breakout. Over a decade passed before Taito used the game as inspiration for Arkanoid which added power-ups and enemies to the block breaking action. After Arkanoid refreshed and energized the ball-meet-brick genre, Taito released a few more Arkanoids and inspired other developers to to do the same with Goindol hitting the arcades along with hundreds of retail/shareware/freeware clones released on the PC, Amiga, and other computer platforms of the late 80s. The Europeans were particularly taken with the Arkanoid craze. As subscribers to all of the UK magazines back in the day such as Zzap 64 and The Games Machine, NCS staffers can attest to the Arkanoid feeding frenzy in Europe at the time.

Recently, Taito's D3 Publisher subsidiary has kept the Arkanoid flame burning with its popular Block Kuzushi series which has sold over 450,000 copies on the Playstation, PS2, NDS, and PSP. The latest version of Block Kuzushi for the PS2 is a conversion of the PSP game from a few months back and places players in control of a winged dragon which serves as the paddle. Seven mythical monsters and their underlings are wrecking the peace in the world. They must be stopped and a single champion
takes to the skies on a mission of destruction. By invading and smashing the destructive beasts on their home turf, our heroic dragon works to bring peace back in the world. It won't be easy however and much skill and deft handling is required to attack enemies and fend off their counterattacks. «NCS Game Notes»

The Honoo no Kakutou Banchou

School Yankii (thugs and hooligans) roam the streets and battle other miscreants to rise to prominence as premiere gang of the burg. Players adopt the role of a self-named school gang leader who battles the primes of other gangs to assert dominance and achieve top ranking. At the outset of the game, a leader punches and kicks to his heart's content but as experience is gained, new skills are learned and made available in specialty disciplines including karate, boxing, and wrestling. A yankii capable of performing the Corkscrew Elbow or the Figure Four Leg Lock may lord all over others in one-on-one street bouts and contests.

As a gangster walks on the road to top dog status, mini-games are presented along with way including one where an oil drum is punched and kicked into submission and another where a flying kick is used to dislodge a metal skate. Along with regulation issue bad asses, a color cast of fighters are featured in the game including a judo master, a boxing freak, and a snarky sumo wrestler. The Banchou Legend Mode is the main game mode but players may also enjoy a 2-player VS Mode to bust up a challenger sitting right next to you in the living room. «NCS Game Notes»

The Nippon Tokushubutai

Join the ranks of the Japan Special Forces and tackle the role of an officer who shuffles to various assignments where street criminals and terrorists are wreaking havoc. When trouble threatens to wreck the peace, the jacketed officer rushes to the airport, the local bank, a convenience store, or another venue where public safety is at risk. The goal is to stop the perpetrators cold with gunfire and shuttle hostages away from harm's way. At the end of each level, the player is ranked on the efficacy of his work, the stealth factor, and the save ratio of the hostages. To avoid being seen by thugs, players may crouch and hide behind obstacles but NCS found that the AI of the criminals isn't necessarily something to fear. They're collectively dumber than a box of hammers...

Missions are viewed from a first person perspective where the environment shifts into view with every turn of the corner and each swivel of the officer's vantage point. The camera control is dodgy however with an auto-centering feature which makes for clumsy controls. The game features over 40 types of real world rifles and guns that may be used in the game for a superfluous bit of realism. Superfluous because the guns all shoot the same. Players may enjoy 37 missions which take place in locales across Japan.
«NCS Game Notes»

Metal Slug 6

SNK celebrated the 10th anniversary of Metal Slug earlier this year with Metal Slug 3D on the PS2. The company also released Metal Slug 6 in arcades which retro-rocketed back to the early days and retained the old school game play of the original. Along with classic Slug action, SNK added extra features as well as two special guests to freshen up the game with new blood. In addition to the four regulation issue Metal Slug grunts (Marco, Fio, Eri, Tarma) that we've come to know and love, SNK includes two heroes named Ralf Jones and Clarke Steel who originally appeared in a game called Ikari Warriors. For new generation players unfamiliar with the classics, IK is a run 'n gun 'em up from SNK back in the day. Ralf and Clarke also appear in the King of Fighters games and bring some special moves which add new tactics to Slug gaming conventions.

To keep the festivities going as the year motors to a close, the company ships a PS2 conversion of MS6 which provides a nigh 1:1 conversion of the Atomiswave original. The game runs at a vigorous pace and the controls are spot on. New modes in the PS2 release of Metal Slug include a Combat School Mode and a Gallery Mode which contains artwork from the previous games in the Metal Slug series. «NCS Game Notes»

Rurouni Kenshin: Enjou! Kyoto Rinne

The red-haired assassin Himura Kenshin is joined by former Shinsengumi member Saito Hajime and brawler Sagara Sanosuke in a 3D hack 'n slasher. The background of the storyline hews close to the Kyoto episode arc (ep28 to 62) in the animated television series. In the transition from the Bakumatsu Period in Japan's history to the Meiji Era, samurai were a dying breed and foreign trade was opened up with the West. The Meiji government set out to kill a malcontent named Shishio Makato who had aspirations of toppling the government and positioning himself in the seat of power. During the assassination attempt, Shishio was shot and burned but miraculously survived. Bandaged from head to toe like a mummy, Shishio conspires with ten warriors known as the Ten Swords or Juppongatana to put his plan of conquest in motion. To counter the threat, Himura, Saito, and Sagara trek out to put an end of Shishio's goals of kingship.

At the outset of the action, players may choose any of the three swordsmen and go through their individual stories. The game is played in fast-paced hack 'n slash action with standard slicing strokes that are coupled with special attacks which light up the screen. «NCS Game Notes»