Thursday, 19 August 2010

Gamescom 2010 Gets Started In Cologne


The European equivalent of E3 got underway in the German city of Cologne yesterday. At least five hundred invited guests were expected to attend the four day games and music event which will continue until the 22nd of August 2010.

The Gamescom tradeshow commenced yesterday evening at the Theater am Tanzbrunnen and was followed by a music concert featuring German Rock acts Revolverheld and Stanfour.

The official Gamescom Congress will take place later today at the Rheinsaal of Congress Centre North at Koelnmesse. The Congress is a free one-day event, whereby gaming industry representatives can meet and discuss current videogame and entertainment trends, and to showcase new ideas.

The games featured at the tradeshow are expected to include:

FIFA 11 (Electronic Arts)
Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep (Square Enix)
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock (Activision Blizzard)
Call of Duty: Black Ops (Activision Blizzard)
Rock Band 3 (MTV Games)

Once again at gamescom 2010, the BÄM! Award will be presented to the most popular computer games of the past year. The awards are based on online voting by more than 1.5 million gamers.

Participants in the voting were encouraged to pick their favorites in nine different categories. Some of this year's nominees include Dragon's Age: Origins, Uncharted 2Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, Proffessor Layton and Pandora's Box and FIFA 11

The winners in each catergory will be honoured with the coveted award at the Gloria Theater in Cologne on 20th August 2010. Hosting the evening event are MTV cornerstone Steve Blame and Katjuschka Altmann. One of the evening’s highlights will be the performance by games musician Chris Hülsbeck (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, among others).

The main congress will also be concluded by the Gamescom City Festival - a three-day free music event in the city of Cologne, which begins on the 20th August 2010. The music line-up will be coming from all over Germany.

The confirmed line-up now includes bands like: 2raumwohnung, Shout Out Louds, Max Herre, Aura Dione, Dúné, Clover, Roman Fischer, Ready, go!, Timid tiger, Olli Schulz, Daniel Benjamin, Samuel Harfst and Gold Hawks.

This year's Gamescom certainly promises a wide range of entertainment activities for all those involved. Please click here to visit the Official Gamescom website for more updated Gamescom information over the next few days.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

What Ever Happened To... Last King of Africa?

As gamers, we should be used to changing release dates and game delays by now, but occasionally one stumbles across a game which never actually makes it onto the shelves at all. This is the case with the imaginative Action-Adventure RPG title called Last King of Africa.

The game, which was adapted from the PC title Paradise by a company called White Bird Productions and then developed by Focus Home Interactive, was first announced in June 2008.

Last King of Africa tells the story of a mysterious young woman who has lost her memory after a plane crash and who had been sent to the palace of a fictional African dictator known as King Rodon to recover and eventually join his harem of wives. The young woman must explore the palace and discover clues about the King and his servants - Only then will she find out the truth about her own true identity.

The DS version of the game was originally hailed as a graphics masterpiece, with beautiful 3D characters and fully-animated cutscenes designed by Belgian comic artist and writer, Benoît Sokal. However, dispite heavy marketing and the promises of an October/November 2008 release date, the game failed to reach official release in the UK or America.

Two years on, the game has managed to find its way into certain online retail spots such as Amazon MarketPlace, despite the fact that most mainstream retailers either claim that the game is still a pre-order item, or simply refuse to acknowledge the game's existence in their product lists.

Now, a new version of  Last King of Africa has been adapted for the Apple iPodiPhone and iPad by a company called BulkyPix, but no further word has been given about the Nintendo DS version.  

It is a mystery why a game with so much promise was seemingly abandoned. Perhaps the truth of what happened lies in this statement from the White Birds Productions website:

"The company always has four to six projects in progress, of which certain see the light of day while others are abandoned..." [White Birds Productions] 
However, the idea of Last King of Africa being an abandoned project just doesn't hold true when you consider that the game is actually available in small quantities online. Maybe what really happened to this game will always be a mystery.

Nevertheless, for those DS owners who are interested in knowing what could have been, the Last King Of Africa trailer provides clear evidence of the type of breath-taking visuals and innovative storyline that the game's producers had originally planned, and may give iPod, iPhone and iPad users an idea of the type of game that they can expect:


The mobile version of this game was announced last month. Apple iPod, iPhone and iPad users can download the Last King Of Africa App from the iTunes store. Click here to go to the store now.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Friday the 13th Proves Lucky for Lego Harry Potter Fans...

Fans across the country must be rubbing their eyes in disbelief today as Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 on PSP is finally released to the public.

The PSP version of the latest Lego-themed game was supposed to be released at the end of March this year but has suffered almost three months of delays instead. This was despite the fact that Lego Harry Potter was released on every other console format (including the Nintendo DS handheld system) on the 25th of June 2010.

No reason has ever been given as to why the PSP version of Lego Harry Potter was consistently delayed. Mini Gamers contacted both TT Games and WB Games to ask for details about why the game was delayed, but both parties refused to comment.

The PSP version was successfully released in North America on the 29th of June 2010 alongside all the other gaming formats, and the game itself has shifted 2.7 million units since that date, according to the Time Warner second-quarter financial report.

Now, the hope is that the game will do just as well in the UK, if not better. However, such a lengthy delay in the game's release has meant that many fans have already chosen to purchase it on another format, which is likely to have a negative impact on the UK PSP sales of Lego Harry Potter from the start.

Moreover, the impact of the delays are still being felt by the retail industry, as many UK retailers have failed to stock the game in time for today's release.

For example, At the time that this post was being constructed, and HMV were still awaiting stock, whilst Zavvi and Asda both claimed that the game would not be released until the 31st of August 2010.

Nevertheless, if you still haven't given up hope of owning this game on the PSP then you can now purchase it from Game, GameStation,  and Amazon, amongst others.

On the whole, the Lego Games series has always been an overwhelming success, but the confusion and disappointment caused by the recent delays is something that will not be forgotten easily by PSP fans who have been waiting several months for a game that they so desperately wanted. When it comes to the release of Lego Harry Potter, is it too little too late?


How has the delay of Lego Harry Potter on PSP made YOU feel? Are you relieved that the game is finally available to buy? Will you be buying any new Lego Games on the PSP in the future?

If you have been affected by the delay of this game and wish to share your views with others then why not let us know how you are feeling by leaving a comment in the comments box? We welcome your thoughts on this important gaming issue.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

One To Watch: Last Window: The Secret of Cape West

Kyle Hyde is back! The mysterious former policeman from Hotel Dusk: Room 215 has returned to the Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance systems in an all-new adventure.

Last Window: The Secret of Cape West (known as Last Window: Midnight Promise in Japan) is set  in Los Angeles one year after the events of Hotel Dusk.

Kyle must again delve into his strange past in order to solve the events of his father's murder. Players must search for clues hidden in each scene by completing various puzzles.

At its core, the game acts like a mystery novel, except that players can influence how the actual story develops. Every decision that the player makes will influence outcomes within the game.

Prior knowledge of Hotel Dusk is not necessary to complete this game, but for those of you who have not  experienced a Kyle Hyde mystery yet, the game works exactly like a novel, with the DS held like a book and the main scenes acting like pages.

Each time a level or 'chapter' is completed, it is turned into text and can be re-read at any time. There is also a new hint system to help players who might be struggling.

Last Window is scheduled for a UK release on the 17th September 2010 and is sure to make a welcome addition to any mystery fan's gaming collection.

This game will also appeal to Professor Layton fans but the game in itself is much darker and a lot more adult than its counterpart - hence the 12+  PEGI rating - and its puzzles are also very challenging to solve.

Keep tuned to the Mini Gamers blogsite for a more in-depth review when the game is actually released to the public in September.


Friday, 6 August 2010

Game Of The Week: Art Academy (DS)

If you've ever wanted to paint or draw like a pro, then this new game could be just what you are looking for. Art Academy on the Nintendo DS teaches you how to draw and paint via step-by-step tutorials.

With the help of your tutor, "Vince" (in relation to the Impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh, we think), you will soon be making  artistic masterpieces of your very own.

As some of you may already know, Art Academy (DS) has been adapted from the popular DSiWare titles Art Academy: First Semester and the sequel Art Academy: Second Semester and utilises elements from both semesters.

Essentially, Art Academy transforms your DS into a fully workable canvas. You can choose from different thicknesses of pencils and paint brushes, and a pallette of ten paints from which you can devise your own shades and tones.

All these art materials behave exactly as they would on a real canvas. For example, when the 'water' tool is added to your paint it will visibly thin it down.

Unlike other drawing and paint games such as Paint By DS, Art Academy is a fun, educational tool and allows you to create your own works of art from scratch rather than just colouring in designs by other artists.

The game contains ten in-depth lessons, which covers Art theory and gives practical tips in how to construct a particular picture or image. Learn how to shade items correctly to create the illusion of depth, or how to create perspective within a painting amongst other things.

Many of the lessons are based on the works of actual artists such as Albrecht Dürer, John Constable or Leonardo Di Vinci.

The Free Paint Mode allows players to paint or draw any image that their heart desires. However, For the less adventurous artists amongst you there are over 50 images for you to get your initial ideas from. If you are using a DSi or DSi XL console you can also take photos and store them as images within this mode as well.

In Art Academy you can also store up to eighty of your favourite creations on the game cartridge itself and show them to your family and friends.  The game also contains a Downloadable Demo so that you can encourage other people with a Nintendo DS system to get interested in Art.

Art Academy UK Trailer

In conclusion, this realistic tool has a lot to offer for art enthusiasts and amatures alike. The varied painting and drawing styles are very interesting and the lessons are both fun and easy to understand.

If you like art and wish to improve your skills or if you just want to have some creative fun, then this is definitely the game for you. Overall rating 9/10.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Metal Gear Solid Sneak-Peak Shows Off 3DS Abilities...

Snake meets his enemies in 3D
It has been little over a month since Nintendo's revolutionary new console was unveiled at E3, but already there has been widespread speculation about what games on the 3DS would actually look like and how the 3D effects of the console would be seen without glasses.

Now a sneak-peak video of  the 3DS version of the third Metal Gear Solid game, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater, could provide the answers.

Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater Trailer

Of course, this video is only a snippet of what 3DS gamers could come to expect in the future, but it is already a good indication of the type of sharp, realistic graphics and 3D environments that are possible with the new console.

Moreover, Metal Gear Solid is not the only 'big name' gaming series to be given the 3D treatment, other game series set to debut on the Nintendo 3DS include The Legend of Zelda, Professor Layton, Animal Crossing, Resident Evil, Assasins' Creed and many, many more.

For those of you who are interested in the aesthetics, (i.e. what the console will actually look like,) three inital colours of 3DS have been announced - black, red and blue.

 It is thought that the red and blue consoles are a clever reference to the red and blue colourings used in the original 3D spectacles, however this might be a coincidence.    

Nintendo have been somewhat reluctant to provide an actual UK release date for the console as yet, but they have hinted that the 3DS will be released in Japan some time between December 2010 and the end of the finacial year in March 2011.

The other major question that fans of Nintendo have been asking is how much will the console cost when it is  first released to the public? Although there is no definite answer to this, Nintendo have recently indicated that the new console may cost under £200 to buy.  

In an interview with Electric Pig, Nintendo's Marketing Manager, James Honeywell, stated that: "The DSi is around £129.99, the DSi XL is around £159.99, so obviously it [the Nintendo 3DS] is going to fit somewhere around that kind of architecture..."

This is good news for consumers - many of whom suspected that the use of such impressive technology would carry a hefty price tag.

It might be a long wait until the console finally hits the shelves, but the 3DS already looks set to revolutionise handheld gaming and puts Nintendo squarely ahead of its main competitors.

Be sure to keep checking  the Mini Gamers blogsite for all the news about the 3DS' development over the coming months.