Saturday, 29 May 2010

5 Things To Look Forward To...

It could be argued that handheld gaming is undergoing a bit of a 'drought' recently, but don't worry, here are five things that handheld gamers should put in their diaries:

1. 'Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4' on DS and PSP

Yes, the boy-wizard is scheduled to be practising his potions on our handhelds sometime next month, and reports of the new Lego game are certainly promising. As expected, players will be able to control several aspects of Harry's daily life, including his lessons and his first four battles with Voldermort as well as exploring a very detailed Lego version of Hogwarts. All of this will be presented in the bright, humorous style that fans of the series have come to expect.

No doubt this will be a popular game for players of all ages. Not long to wait now!

2. 'Super Scribblenauts' (AKA 'Scribblenauts' the sequel)

The sequel to the ever-popular DS game is back, and this time, Maxwell's world is even more interactive than ever! As well as new challenges and puzzles to explore, the game's dictionary has now been modified to include multiple adjectives so Maxwell can now choose to have 'Rainbow Wings' or 'Robotic Roller skates' for example.

Furthermore, it is clear that Warner has been listening to fans of the original 'Scribblenauts', as Maxwell can now be controlled by the D-pad controls and not just via the stylus - thank goodness for that!

'Super Scribblenauts' is due to be released some time in September this year, and you can rely on 'Mini Gamers' to bring you the review.

3. 'The Sims 3' on DS

The third incarnation of the best-selling PC Game of all time is finally coming to consoles some time in September 2010, and the DS version promises to be a real treat. For the first time, 'The Sims 3' offers handheld gamers the chance to play a game which is closer to its PC counterpart.

Players will be able to control multiple characters as part of a family and will be allowed to give them unique personality traits and decorate their homes in whatever style they wish. Furthermore, as a console exclusive, players unlock all-new Karma Powers. Wield the ultimate control over your Sims giving them wealth, beauty, and love - or take it all away with the click of a button.

It certainly sounds exciting! Hopefully this will be one game that actually manages to live up to the hype! Expect a full review when the game is finally released to the public.

4. 'Everybody's Tennis' on the PSP

Yes, you read that correctly, the team behind the 'Everybody's Golf' games are due to release this sporting title onto the PSP in early July 2010. Now players can get to experience the game of tennis as never seen before.

'Everybody's Tennis' works on the same principle as its predecessor - to make the game of tennis accessible to people of all ages and abilities, so expect bright, colourful graphics and quirky characters.

As with 'Everybody's Golf', characters can be customised using items that are unlocked throughout the game. The overall gameplay is said to be easy for novices to interact with, but the games developers are promising an advanced shot system for more confident gamers. This is definitely a game which should be on every sports-gamer's wishlist.

5.A 3D Gaming Experience

Nintendo have announced plans to create a fully-3D DS console, without the need for wearing those ridiculous spectacles! Furthermore, Nintendo has promised that the new console will be backwards-compatible with older forms of the DS and DSi consoles.

It is difficult to see how this might work, but the 3D DS is set to be unveiled at this year's E3 convention in Los Angeles next month. If you can't wait, the Nintendo DSi already possesses a DSiware title which utilises 3D technology:

This kind of technology in a game console is a handheld gamer's dream! However, there may be a long wait before the console is actually released to the public. Watch this space...

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Game Of The Week: ModNation Racers (PSP)

It has a quirky title, and even quirkier gameplay, but 'ModNation Racers' on the PSP definitely deserves the top spot on this week's gaming charts. This game is a sort of cross between 'My Sims Racing' and 'Little Big Planet'.

The aim of the game is to beat competitors in different racing competitions to unlock customisable items. The game has two main racing modes: Single Player Race and MRC (ModNation Racing Championships) Career Mode.

In Career Mode, you play as a young newcomer to the racing circuit called Tag. Your goal here is to complete a set of challenges whilst racing. The higher you place in each race, the more customisable items you unlock.

As well as racing around the track at high speed, you can choose to slow down your competitors by using a variety of weapons that can be collected from little bubbles that lay across the track at certain points. The weapons include: Smoke Bombs, Electric Pulses and Fire Bolts amongst other things. Points are awarded for how many competitors you manage to hit with your weapons and from how far away you manage to get a direct hit. This adds an extra competitive edge to the game and increases the fun.

Another racing element in this game is the 'Boost' button. The Boost meter has to be filled up before players can use the boost. The way to do this is to perform daredevil stunts on ramps throughout the race, or by 'Side Stomping' (overtaking your competitors by force). Once the boost meter has been filled, it is very effective in helping you to beat your fellow racers.

In the Single Player Race, you can choose from a group of Mods, vehicles and racing tracks to showcase your driving skills on. Here you can also choose the speed of the race, how many laps you wish to try and how many AI competitors you wish to compete against. The Single Player Race mode is also a chance for players to use their own custom designed Mods, Vehicles and Tracks.

That brings us neatly to the best feature of 'ModNation Racers': Everything is customisable, from your own Mod character to the track on which you race and the vehicle you choose to drive. Furthermore, the unlockable items can be recoloured to your specifications using 128 different colours! Moreover, some of your Mods facial features such as eyes and ears can be customised separately, so if you want to create a Mod with one large scary eye and one small eye, that is now possible.

Most of the content is locked at the beginning of the game, so it might be an idea to play the career mode first and unlock a few of the better items, but customising your game is easy and can be completed in a few simple steps. Players can also choose to display their creations on the Web and can download other players' creations as well.

The game utilises the PSP's directional controls and button pad as well as the left and right buttons, but this can sometimes prove a little tricky when racing against a large number of competitors.

Having said that, the game has two control layouts, (A and B,) to adapt the game for either PSP or PSP Go users, but which can be manually selected for either handheld. These layouts switch the acelerator controls from the R button to the X button and vice versa. If you are having trouble using your boost button in the first layout, try switching to layout B and see if this improves things.

Overall, this is a fantastic racing game for the whole family to enjoy. If you liked the customisation tools in 'Little Big Planet', or if you are a big fan of other racing franchises, then this is a game you would be interested in. A real winner! Overall Rating: 10/10.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Review: Hasbro Family Game Night (DS)

When I first saw this game advertised, I was not really sure whether I would like it or not. However, I decided to take a chance and order it anyway. I'm really glad that I did.

'Hasbro Family Game Night' allows gamers to play four of Hasbro's best-selling games on their DS. The games included on this volume includes: 'Battleships', 'Bop It', 'Connect 4' and 'Operation'.

Players can pit their skills against a variety of computerised opponents or challenge their friends and family in wireless mode. There are different backgrounds and awards that can be unlocked throughout the game. Mr. Potato Head acts as host for each of the games that you play and also decides which player goes first in each game.

Each of the four games has a 'classic mode' and a special game mode that gives players the chance to play a unique version of the game. For example, in 'Battleships', players can choose to use enhanced weapons against their opponent, including grenades, torpedoes, rocket launchers, etc.

Essentially this DS title is just a compilation of mini-games, of course, but each game is presented in a aesthetically-pleasing 3D-style and the award system makes it a fun game to replay over and over again. 0verall 'Mini Gamer' rating: 8/10.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

No 'Sims 3' For PSP...

'The Sims 3' is coming to consoles in autumn of 2010. That's great news, of course, but dispite releases being confirmed for Wii, X-Box, PS3 and DS, no release has yet been planned on PSP. One possible reason for this could be the PSP's supposed poor sales in the UK and Europe, although this is only speculation.

However, it does seem strange that EA has decided not to opt for a PSP release this time around especially as 'The Sims 2' PSP games ('Pets' and 'Castaway') were very popular. Also, the PSP version of 'The Sims 2' was the first handheld version to offer gamers a realistic handheld experience of the original PC game and its expansion packs. Thus it seems odd that EA would deliberately choose not to release 'The Sims 3' on the PSP.

Moreover, there is another point to be made in relation to this issue. Should games developers be allowed to restrict popular games to only a few consoles, or should games that are likely to have a wide appeal be produced for all formats? What do you think?