Monday, 28 June 2010

Game Of The Week: Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (DS & PSP)

Lego Harry Potter has arrived! This game allows players to act as the boy-wizard himself, and features many impressive elements from the first four books and films in the Harry Potter series. The game has gained much hype during its production, but the final product is a masterpiece and is definitely another smash for TT Games, who produce the Lego Games series. Please note, that the following is a review of the DS version of Lego Harry Potter only, as the PSP version has not been released yet, although we are sure that it will be just as spectacular.

Players start the game in The Room Of Requirement and move from there into the main story modes. There are many magical skills to learn, including Levitation, Transfiguration (changing one object into another) and Potions. All interactions and spell-casting is controlled by the stylus.

Furthermore, there are 140 different playable characters to choose from. These include Harry's two best pals, Ron and Hermione, as well as a few quirkier characters like Hagrid's faithful Neapolitan Mastiff, Fang. Each character has its own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to magic and broom-flying etc, which helps to keep the gameplay fresh and exciting.

The most impressive element in Lego Harry Potter is the Game Map. Almost every iconic location from the Harry Potter universe has been included here - shop for wands in Diagon Alley, drink Butter Beers in The Three Broomsticks, meet CentaursSpiders and Giants in The Forbidden Forest, and explore Hogwarts until your heart is content. Furthermore, all of the locations are presented in the 3D Lego-style that fans of the series have come to expect.

One of the major pitfalls of other Harry Potter games to date has been how to get players to navigate around such a magnificant universe without getting lost or bored. Lego Harry Potter has simplified this very adequetely, by adding a marker on your locations map, which tells you where to go next. This will also help younger gamers to navigate more easily.

As well as the traditional Story Mode, Lego Harry Potter features some interesting side missions for players to undertake if they wish to do so. Most of which, include some form of puzzle-solving and can often lead players into the more complex and secretive areas of Hogwarts. Of course, there are also the usual Lego Studs to collect along the way. Moreover, the game also features a co-op mode, so you can play alongside your friends and help to defeat the evil Lord Voldermort.

In conclusion, this is a brilliant game that is likely to interest gamers of any age. The main stories are interspersed with hillarious cutscenes and will keep the whole family entertained. This is definitely one game everybody should own. Overall rating: 10/10.   

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Lego Harry Potter Delayed For PSP

The release date for the PSP version of  "Lego Harry Potter" has been delayed. For PlayStation Portable fans of the Lego Games series this news has obviously come as a huge disappointment, as many people have already pre-ordered the game and expected to receive it in the post this Friday.The delay will not affect any other formats, including the Nintendo DS, so those gamers can still look forward to receiving their game at the expected time.

 No reason has been given for the delay as yet. Nevertheless, it should not be too long a wait for PSP users, as the game is going be released two weeks later - 7th July 2010, and it has to be said that Lego Harry Potter looks set to be another gaming smash for the developers,  TT Games. Hopefully, it will be worth the extra wait...

Thursday, 17 June 2010

E3 News: 3DS Finally Revealed!

"Nothing between you and the experience." [Nintendo 3DS Slogan] 
Nintendo's President and CEO, Satoru Iwata demonstrated the lastest console to join the DS family during the Nintendo Press Conference at E3 yesterday. This revolutionary console allows players to play a selection of DS titles in 3D without the need for spectacles or other 3D devices. This is what the first image of the 3DS actually looks like:

 As you can see, The console looks like any other DS system,  although it does feature an analog stick above the D-pad on the left-hand side. It has a 3.5-inch widescreen LCD display, and  There is a 3D depth slider control on the side of the system, allowing players to choose exactly how much of the 3D effect they want. There's also a gyro and motion sensors in the system, and the analog stick is actually a slide pad. There are two camera lenses on the outside of the system, so users can take pictures and view them in 3D.

Furthermore, In an attempt to reduce smudges caused by the Stylus on the new 3D system, (which Nintendo has admitted would reduce the quality of any 3D effects,) only the bottom screen of the console will feature  Nintendo's usual touch-screen technology, whilst the top screen will be specifically for 3D. The system is also capable of displaying 3D Hollywood movies, but they aren't announcing any specific details at the moment.

Iwata also discussed Nintendo's reasons for wanting to produce a console with full 3D capabilities. He said: "When 3D effects are added to gaming, there's a better sense of height, width, and depth in gaming worlds, so it's easier to navigate them."

As for the wireless capabilities of the 3DS, it is good news. Unlike the older forms of DS console, The 3DS can automatically detect Wi-Fi access points and other 3DS systems, and can therefore communicate with them more easily.

Iwata also discussed the types of DS and DSi titles that gamers could expect to appear on the new system. Amongst those mentioned were: DJ Hero, Kingdom Hearts, Resident Evil, Batman, Assassin's Creed, Professor Layton, Ridge Racer, and Metal Gear Solid. There was also some indication that a new sequel to the Nintendogs game, called Nintendogs and Cats may also receive the 3D treatment in the future.

However, it will still be a long wait before gamers can actually take one of these consoles home. The 3DS is due to be released to the public in March 2011, but if the final product is as good as it promises to be, then it is sure to be worth the wait...

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

E3 News: Eye Pet on PSP!

Sony's Computer Entertainment America CEO, Jack Tretton had some exciting news for PSP fans at E3 yesterday. He promises that Sony will release more than 70 new titles for the handheld console by the end of 2010.


Amongst the most popular games revealed yesterday, were God of War: Ghost of Sparta, Resident Evil, Kingdom Hearts, The 3rd Birthday, Valkyria II, and Patapon 3. Tretton also revealed that the PS3 virtual pet EyePet would also be making its debut on the PSP at some point this year.

EyePet allows gamers to raise a cute little virtual pet on their console and was very successful on the PS3 last year. The PSP version is thought to utilise the PSP's GO!Cam, an attachable camera that has previously been used the Invizamals game. The PSP version will also allow gamers to create their own toys for their EyePet. Details about the gameplay are very sketchy at the moment, but the trailer looks promising:

Although the majority of the Sony Conference focused on the PS3, it is good to know that Sony has not forgotten about the fans of its handheld. The PSP has been accused of dwindling sales over the past few months, but the addition of so many new titles is bound to gain the PSP all the attention it deserves.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

E3 2010 Gets Underway in Los Angeles

For those of you who don't already know, E3, (Electronic Entertainment Expo,) is one of the largest annual gaming tradeshows in the world, where the next generation of games and gaming hardware is revealed to the top dogs of the gaming industry, and the 2010 line-up is already proving to be very interesting indeed.

Announcements for the DS are expected to include a reveal of Nintendo's plan for a 3D console
(called the 3DS) and trailers for new games like
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 , My Sims: SkyHeroesThe Sims 3 and the sports title FIFA Soccer 11.

Sony's PSP games trailers are expected to include some notable sequels to pre-existing titles such as: 
God of War: Ghost of Sparta, Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars,  and a new Michael Jackson video game in which gamers can reportedly play as the 'King of Pop' himself!

Meanwhile,several  rumours are also circulating that Sony's PSP announcements will include plans for a new PSP console called The PSP 2, although I must stress that this is purely conjecture at this stage.

So far, there has been no clear winner at E3 2010, but handheld gamers are sure to hope that either Sony or Nintendo walk away with the best overall line-up this year. Check back with 'Mini Gamers' over the next few days to see exactly what Nintendo and Sony have to offer fans of their handheld consoles...

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Rooms: The Main Building (DS)

Rooms: The Main Building is an innovative new title for the DS. Players must help the central character known as 'Mr. X' escape from a mysterious building by completing a set of sliding puzzles. The game, which boasts over 100 levels, was developed by Natsume Inc, a Japanese video games production company whose other well-known titles include the Harvest Moon series.

As the plot goes, poor Mr. X receives a strange gift on his birthday. When he opens the gift he finds himself transported into the world of Rooms. Mr. X can only go home when all of the sliding puzzles have been completed and the mystery of the strange building has finally been solved...

As well as sliding puzzles, the game features some clever twists to keep players entertained. These include  keys, telephones, ladders, magic cupboards and much more, which the player must  utilise in order to solve the game. Furthermore, Rooms also features a 'level editor' mode, so that players can create and play their own sliding puzzles. 

This game looks very interesting on the surface. However, it has one overriding flaw - unlike other sliding puzzles, which allow the player to slide the titles in any direction they choose, Rooms only allows players to move a tile if 'Mr. X' is standing in the square at the time. This soon leads to frustration when trying to solve the puzzle, and turns the art of sliding puzzles into a monotonous chore.

It is a shame that Natsume Inc chose to include such an annoying mechanism in this title, as the actual idea behind the game is so inspired and unique. It is not so much that this is a bad game, it actually has a lot of potential, but be prepared to spend a lot of time scratching your head in frustration when the tiles do not move as you want them to. Overall rating: 4/10

Friday, 4 June 2010

Game Of The Week: 2010 FIFA World Cup: South Africa (PSP)

The World Cup is only one week away, and as with other popular sporting events, there is usually a Gaming title to accompany it. The EA Sports game
'2010 FIFA World Cup: South Africa'
on the PSP is no different.

In this game, football fans get to experience all the buzz and festivity of the actual world cup. Players can choose from any one of the 199 teams featured and take them from qualification to a good virtual reproduction of the World Cup final. All of the 10 official stadiums have been reproduced as well.

Every part of this game has been engineered to give fans an authentic experience of this year's World Cup. Thus, players will be treated to highly realistic scenes of confetti, waving flags, stramers and cannons - all designed to reproduce the excitement and anticipation of the actual game.

The PSP version of this game also features some welcome new changes to the other titles in this series. For the first time on PSP, Players can now create a virtual avatar of themselves, wear the shirt of their favourite team and lead them to World Cup glory.

Furthermore, the analogue stick can now be utilised in an all-new shooting mechanic, which gives players total control over the ball, leading to more precise shots. Players must strike the ball with the finesse needed to curve it around the wall and past the keeper for the winning goal.

Players can also earn power boosts during the game: Dominate opponents, build momentum and propel your chosen squad to victory. Players can also choose how to boost their team, and which aspects they wish to boost - offense, defense, the entire squad or just your goalkeeper.

The overall presentation of this game is excellent. The virtual players now look even more like their real-life counterparts. Moreover,the unique camera angles helps players to focus in on all the exciting moments of gameplay without losing the clarity of the graphics.

In addition, a new 'Two button' control system for inexperienced gamers and a new penalty system (whereby gamers can practise their shot before actually taking it) also help to bring a new level of accessibility to the game.

EA Sports has clearly tried hard to give fans an authentic World Cup experience with this title. If you have ever dreamt of leading your country to footballing glory then this is definitely the game for you. Overall rating: 9/10.