Friday, June 22, 2007

Zelda no Densetsu: Mugen no Sunadokei

From the Publisher

The epic story of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker continues as Link finds himself lost and alone in unknown seas in a new adventure. Featuring intuitive touch-screen controls and innovative puzzles, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass offers new challenges for fans of the series and an easy-to-grasp introduction for gamers new to The Legend of Zelda. But time grows short, and only the Phantom Hourglass can buy Link the minutes he’ll need to survive. «more»

Partial Arrival: One of our shipments of Zelda didn't make it in this morning and is now scheduled to arrive on Monday. Emails sent.

Itadaki Street DS

Mash up the famous characters from Dragon Quest and Super Mario Bros in a Monopoly-like board game and you have the latest incarnation of Enix's Itadaki Street. The goal is the accumulation of property and capital while your protagonist roams around a board. At the outset of each game, four players stand on the starting point. The first player throws the dice and then moves the allotted spaces as dictated by the die. Some spaces on the board feature bonuses which yield gifts while other spaces serve as property that players can buy. Once you're a property owner, you can charge fees to anyone who lands on your space so it's sort of like collecting rent. The ultimate goal is to accumulate such a surfeit of property and capital that you overwhelm your competitors. «more»

Hello Kitty no Gotouchi Collection

Daniel is about to leave on a photography training assignment around Japan when Kitty arrives to bid him farewell. The two share a moment and Daniel departs. Afterwards, Kitty notices a brown camera bag containing a vital camera that was left behind. Dutiful and action-oriented, Kitty springs after Daniel to hand over the camera but he's already gone. Vamoose. Since Kitty is a gal who gets things done, she resolves to find Daniel and deliver the camera. Along the way, she'll work at odd jobs (mini games) to earn money to pay for her expenses and take photographs of herself in scenic locales. Some examples of the mini-games include a fishing challenge, a grilling task, and another one where Kitty has to prepare a bowl of ramen with all the fixings. «more»

Shaberu! DS Oryouri Navi

If you've ever visited any of the three Imperial Hotels in Japan and savored the food during your stay, you now have the access to the knowledge to recreate the dishes at home. Chefs from the Imperial Hotels collaborated with Koei to collect nearly 200 recipes culled from their world class kitchens.
In addition to detailed ingredient lists, the techniques that the chefs use to cook up their masterpieces are also recorded for posterity. The best part of the recipes and techniques is that they use standard utensils and tools that are probably already in your kitchen such as a mandolin, a sturdy blade, and a cast-iron pot. Finally, secret techniques for preparing seafood, cooking exotic ingredients, and more are included.

Growlanser VI: Precarious World

The continent of Esgrenz is broken up into separate principalities which keep an uneasy peace. When civil conflict flares up against the royal family in the kingdom of Hingstan, the powers that be at Fomeros send troops into Hingstan while a company known as Monopolis conspires to profit from the impending war at hand. To add more intrigue to the mix, a rebel force works undercover with the goal of usurping the power of the ruling Hingstan family. Against this backdrop, a 21-year old hero named Merklich and his friend Wendy endeavor to find answers, offer solutions, and perhaps discover the mysteries behind the Hidden Continent. Although Merklich suffers from amnesia as a result of a near fatal accident, he nevertheless knows how to fire off magic spells and slash a sword like a champ. Merklich and Wendy are agents of the Monopolis company but when they encounter members of the rebel army, Merklich begins to question the goals and intentions of his employer.

Growlanser VI features 3D roaming game play and nearly 20 minutes of cut-scene animation which enhances the storytelling as the adventure unfurls. Atlus calls the battle system, "Seamless Mission Clear" where encounters are fought directly on the over world. «more»

Smash Court Tennis 3

The first Smash Court game was released on the Playstation in 1996 where it garnered accolades and praise for its refined controls and top notch game play. Namco lobs the third Smash Court at the market eleven years later and earns a respectable 32/40 from the editors at Famitsu. Whereas the original game featured vanilla tennis players based on no one, the new game features 16 actual players from the world of tennis including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, James Blake, Maria Sharapova, Martina Hingis, and Nicole Vaidisova.

The Arcade Mode allows players to choose a professional player as their onscreen swatter or create a custom-made tennis player with unique facial features, hair color, hair type, form, body style by way of adjustable height and weight, and clothing. You can even select the home country with attendant flag. Arcade Mode features a fast paced game that doesn't require a lot of time investment to get into. The Lesson Mode teaches the basics of playing virtual tennis and the different shots that are available in the game. If you're serious about tennis, you can elect to play the Professional Tour Mode which spans a year in game time where your chosen player practices to hone his skills and tackles all challengers. Endorsement contracts may also be won. Multiplayer action is realized in the Ad hoc Mode where two players can link up and enjoy a wireless match or play three available mini-games including one that's based on Namco's Pac-Man franchise and another which is based on Galaga. «more»

Go! Go! Minon

When average Japanese citizens need a helping hand, they normally turn to the Ouendan gang as featured in the wildly popular NDS Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan game. Those boys know how to cheer up a storm to help the hapless. However, when the Ouendan are too busy running around town, the torch is apparently handed over to a new hero who wears yellow spandex with red racing stripes.

Meet Minon, a racing fool who high steps his way through obstacles, routes, pathways, and other "roads" to help people in need. For example, in the first level of the game, a little girl is happily walking and carrying a balloon when a mole burrows upwards and causes her to trip. She loses her grip on the helium-filled balloon which flies up into the heavens. Tears well up in the little scamp's eyes since tragedy has just befallen her. Never fear however since Minon is on the job. Race across a park area atop domino-like protrusions that pop up from the ground. Pressing the "B" button on the Wiimote solidifies the segmented domino pathways so that Minon circles the park and eventually recovers the balloon like a champ. Later levels add forking paths and obstacles to the mix. «more»

Hajime no Ippo: The Fighting Revolution

The Hajime no Ippo manga has delighted boxing fans in Japan for the past 17 years. In the story, an underdog named Ippo Makunouchi rises from fledgling pugilist to serious contender. Read reams of manga or watch reels of anime and you'll notice a common character archetype used in many feel-good scenarios. There are many variants and branches of this model but they all boil down to a single core concept. Succinctly, we term it the "underdog becomes god" phenomenon where a goofy outcast rises above his oppressors with nothing but inner drive and innate ability. In the end, the archetype attains all of his goals and the former critics and bullies are squarely on his side.

Relive the ascent of Ippo from geek to god in Hajime no Ippo Revolution which is the Wii's first boxing title. Per Wii convention, the Nunchuk and Wiimote are manhandled to throw punches, swerve away from incoming swings, and perform rapid-fire blows. The game is viewed from behind the boxer who's body is semi-transparent so that you can view the opponent head-on. The controls require some practice and learning but once you've gotten the swing of things, you'll be dancing across the ring like a seasoned pro and stinging like a bee. «more»

Ryuuko no Ken Collection [The Best]

In 1992, Ryo Sakazaki (he looks like Ken... with a mullet) and Robert Garcia were on a mission. Ryo's little sister Yuri had been kidnapped and the two friends ventured into the seedy Southtown to bring her home. Instead of sleuthing or congenial conversation, Ryo and Robert busted heads all the way up to the top of the food chain of the criminal organization that ruled Southtown - Mr. Big and Mr. Karate.

After their escapades, Ryo and Robert were called back to Southtown for another challenge to determine the King of Fighters in Ryuuko no Ken 2. Yuri Sakazaki joined her big brother in the competition along with their father, Takuma Sakazaki where the family was able to defeat Geese Howard, the kingpin of Southtown.

In the third Ryuuko no Ken game, Robert Garcia takes center stage where he's on a mission to help a friend named Freia Lawrence. SNK celebrates the Art of Fighting series by collecting all three games on 1 PS2 disc and throws in an online fighting mode, the ability to edit character colors, and a new arrange music mode. «more»

Garou: Mark of the Wolves [The Best]

«©NCS» Garou Mark of the Wolves was originally hatched on the Neo Geo in 1999, flew to the Dreamcast in 2001, and now roosts 6 years later on the PS2. The conversion quality of the game compares favorably to the Dreamcast version but with much improved sound and an online competition function is included for internet connected bouts. Note that to compete online, an account with KDDI's Multi Matching BB service is required which costs Y900/month. Unlike other Neo Geo Online releases, the game does not feature character color editing but an Arrange Mode for the BGM. Additional bonus features in the game include a gallery of Garou artwork, playable bosses, and move listings.

As the story in the game goes, it is roughly a decade after Geese Howard was defeated by Terry Bogard. Geese's son Rock has been training under the watchful eye of Terry who has shaped him into a highly competent fighter. One day, Terry and Rock are invited to the King of Fighters: Maximum Mayhem tournament which is being held by Rock's uncle Kain R. Heinlein. A new assemblage of fighters such as Bonne Jenet, Gato, Hokutomaru, and Marco Rodriguez travel to SouthTown where they answer the call of the fighting ring. «more»

King of Fighters Orochi Collection [Best]

Delayed a couple of times, SNK Playmore finally makes good and King of Fighters Orochi Collection reaches the PS2. The KOF games included on the DVD are as follows:

King of Fighters '95
King of Fighters '96
King of Fighters '97

For a new type of KOF experience, an online mode is available for battling against opponents through the KDDI Multi Matching BB service. Playing the games this morning, NCS found the loading times fast and the visual mimicry of the Neo Geo originals nigh identical, down to the jagged text, the thumping music, and the Neo-Geo-esque color palette.

A color edit mode is available to turn the classic color schemes of recognizable characters into something new and if so desired, something very strange. The controls are responsive and we tested the three games with the PS2 Neo Geo joystick for an authentic blast to the past. «more»